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St. Stanislaus Kostka to Welcome Father Mark on Christmas Eve

December 5, 2005 North City, Religion 15 Comments

I’m not Catholic, nor am I Polish. But I’ve been following the saga of the St. Louis Archdiocese trying to take St. Stanislaus Kostka (building, land and endowment) away from the people that have worked hard to secure its future in St. Louis.

A priest is coming from Springfield to fill the void after “harshbishop” Burke pulled St. Stans’ priest a couple of years ago. KSDK reports:

In August 2004, Archbishop Raymond Burke removed the last priest after years of conflict over who controls the church and its finances.

According to the board members at St. Stanislaus, Father Mark originally wanted to come here temporarily to help the church until the issue with the Archdiocese of St.Louis was resolved. But when he was not given permission, he left his post in Springfield to come permanently.

That move got Father Mark suspended before he even arrived. In a released statement, the Archdiocese said, “Father Bozek has no authority to function as a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.” Krasnicki [St. Stans legal advisor] said that’s the Archbishop’s interpretation of man-made cannon law. Krasnicki said Father Mark is still an ordained priest. Krasnicki said, “What they’re saying is his mass will be illicit and that means illegal under their rules. It doesn’t take away from the validity of the mass or the sacrament that he may impose on somebody or share with somebody or witness for someone.”

Like many city churches the parishioners have moved to the suburbs, returning each week for services. But what is unique about St. Stanislaus is they maintained their building and membership while surrounded by housing projects, including the infamous Pruitt-Igoe. So many churches in better circumstances have been unable to maintain their membership roster and building. This is an urban church that deserves to be saved. Despite claims to the contrary, if the Archdiocese gets their greedy hands on the property it is bound to be closed. The only way to keep it open is to keep it independent.

I’m not Catholic, nor am I Polish. But, the directors and parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka have my full support.

– Steve


Currently there are "15 comments" on this Article:

  1. Brad Mello says:

    Considering Pope Nazi’s latest diatribe aimed at gay priests — I say good riddens to the church — sell it to a more open minded and tolerant group!

  2. Shaun Tooley says:

    Father Bozek gave a speech at St. Agnes cathedral last Monday I believe (November 28). He was a very recent addition to Springfield and like all Americans we like to learn about foreigners. May St. Stanislaus Kostka make good use of him. Maybe they could build housing specifically for congregants and the suburbanites return to the surrounding neighborhood. Wishful thinking, I know.

  3. Joe Frank says:

    The parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka have been getting pretty strong community support, in spite of the Archdiocese attempting to make different locations the “official” Polish church (1st St. John Apostle and Evangelist in Plaza Square, now St. Agatha in Soulard).

    I think they should join the National Polish Catholic Church and sever ties with the Roman Catholic Church. They would join another near North Side parish in that church: SS Cyril & Methodius, located at the corner of 11th and Chambers, overlooking I-70 in Old North St. Louis.

  4. Patrick says:

    What I think people fail to understand here looking from the outside in is that canon law is the church’s law. If a priest defies his bishop, such as leaving a post, he is abandoning his vow of obedience to that bishop. Thats where the issue is I think here with this priest issue. I have sat through many ordinations personally, as I am involved with the music program of the archdiocese, and at everyone, the priest swore obedience to the Bishop, whoever he was at that time, and he also swears obedience to his successors. That is in the text of the oridination rite. I think thats why this priest was censured, or whatever happened to him originally. IN leaving his post, he defied his own bishop. In coming here, he also defied this bishop, like him or not, he is still the bishop.

    I dont like the idea of any parish being closed, I personally am from north county and have watched many parishes close, there were over 13 . But the problem isnt the Bishop taking a parish to get his hands on money (which isnt true at all, most of these parishes that closed were totally in the red). The problem is people in those parishes have left the area or arent involved in the area. Without going out and gathering new people into the fold, no parish will survive. Its not a matter of stearing people into one county or another, its a simple matter of economics. Without faithful, there is no money. Without money, bills dont get paid, teacher’s salaries arent paid, services that rely on money in parishes will suffer. The only person who can keep a parish alive is the person looking right back at you in the mirror.

  5. K in the City says:

    I think, smooth rhetoric aside, Patrick, whether yours is your OWN or prompted by “BIG RAYMOND”, the bottom line with the hearts and minds of ALL Saint Louis’ faithful of every demographic and denomination, is —

    RIGHT is RIGHT, and plain WRONG is just that – WRONG.

    K in Saint Louis

  6. Al Miller says:

    I am a 65yo (Louisiana) Catholic and have chosen not to continue to attend the Mass, nor practice the faith as the Church wants you to….years ago, we found that the Belleville area was being loaded with pedophile priests, and the Catholic Church defends their rights to be a pedophile. The St. Louis Archdiocese only wanted the money of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish PERIOD….and used every threat imaginable to force the parish to turn over the funds to the Archdiocese… I APPLAUD SSK parish for their actions and see no reason why they would want to continue to be under the dictatorship of the Catholic Diocese…
    The bishop, or Cardinal, or the Vatican can not remove my love and worship of my God; nor do they induce any such action that would change my belief between my God and myself…. Maybe the Catholic Church is trying to initiate some of the tactics they learned from the Nazi Gestapo when they were sheltering the Nazis during the war…

    I only have a couple of words for the Catholic Church if they ever send me a letter of ‘excommunication’…..however they are not printable for the public….
    Is this language too ‘strong’?? Where are the errors??????????

  7. Walt says:

    Regarding St. Stan:
    After reviewing the correspondence between the Board (Trustees) of St. Stan and the Archdiocese would someone identify how the monies and assets of St. Stan would be “lost” by the parish if the proposed agreement and two new corporations were established as presented earlier in 2005?

  8. patrick says:

    Well Right is right, but what people are forgetting here is that this situation goes far beyond the current Bishop. This was a mess left by previous bishops, which unfortunately has its apex now. These people (the board) refuse to accept Church governance, regardless if its a money issue (which it isnt) or not. Do I think that this situation could have been handled alot better on both sides? Yes, absolutely. Do I think perhaps there could have been more compassion from the Archdiocese on this? Absolutely. I also think that certain people could have been more open. What is happening is a failure to communicate on both ends. Neither party is innocent here. However, the bottom line here is, as even supporters of one side or another have pointed out, is a direct disobedience to the church. It is sad that it has come to this, But these individuals , and the archdiocese BOTH caused this situation, maybe more so on the prior. Archbishop Burke just is getting the brunt of this, but if any of you care to read the actual documents on this that are readily available, you will see that this has been happening for years…. We are talking about going back 4 or five bishops. Thats a LONG time, and as such you cant attribute this to any one person, on either side. The recent excommunication , and I pray for these people constantly, is a result of people not listening, on either side. Call it rhetoric all you want, and I am not trying to come at anyone, but the bottom line here is that church law was disobeyed, that being obedience to the Pope and his Bishops and priests. This parish was instituted by the the Bishop Kenrick, which for most purposes makes it a part of the diocese even before this mess started. I think both sides are right, but I also think both sides are wrong. This could have been handled much, much better then it was. I never claimed anyone was right or wrong here, I only stated that this Bishop was in his authority to act as he has. It is not a matter of judging whats right and wrong, its a ,matter of something not being done in accordance with what church laws are. But again I say I do believe both sides are wrong in areas on this, in their approaches to each other, and I personally pray that both sides can eventually heal this wound. It will require effort from both sides.

    [REPLY – What is “right” in my view is that the current and past members of St. Stanislaus have done a remarkable job maintaining their church despite decades of decline in the area. While Catholics and other faiths packed up and left the area these people remained determined to hold onto what their forefathers built.

    In 50 years when the area is again thriving with residents it will be partly because this board refused to give in which would most certainly lead to the church being closed in due course. As an urbanist looking to reverse decades of decline this board are heros and the bishop is the enemy. – SLP]

  9. Patrick says:

    well the money’s arent lost. NO bishop anywhere in this country has the right to sieze assets from a fully functioning parish, which, prior to the events of this weekend St. Stan’s was. As long as a parish has a need in an area that parish stays in that area, provided of course there is money to keep it running. Its like that with any business. If I have a mcdonalds that isnt selling anything…my mcdonalds will eventually close… thats the bottom line. So that would be my response to the money question. The big lie here is that money CANT be siezed. I really would like to know where this concept even came from because it is totally bogus. What would be worse for the Archdiocese, Pressuring this parish into obedience, or Closing it down? I think closing it down is the last thing they want to do. That would just add to the controversy. All that has been attempted here for years is an attempt to have a unified roman catholic church in this city. Now obviously things on both sides have caused divisions and I realize that.

    I applaud this church in how it has kept everything going on its own. It is remarkable, but at the same time, if they claim to be a roman catholic church, that kind of makes it understood they want to be a part of the Roman catholic community. That community, like it or not, right or wrong has rules. If every parish were free to do as they pleased in all aspects, doctrine, money, evangilization, we would be back in the reformation with chaos abound. That is what the bishops of this town are forced to deal with.
    Now I dont know this board, I am sure they are all good decent people. However, with the authority of this board that they have, what were to happen if suddenly that board disagreed with something the church did on a broader scale? You would have chaos. There would be no authority that could readily come in , besides rome, and that would take a while. This is why there are dioceses. To help keep everything in balance. Its not a money issue. Yeah the parish has 9 million dollars. The bishop cant touch it either, no more then he could come and steal the money that is in the collection for st vincents when it happens or anything of that sort. What a bishop can and does do, is enforces church law, and interpret’s and teach’s church doctrine. The only thing these bishops (going back past rigali) are guilty of is lack of compassion.
    Now in regards to decline. yeah the city is definately on a downward trend, however.. why is that? In my opinion people arent proud of themselves anymore, atleast not to the point where they take care of themselves. They definately need a pick me up out there. But this also stems from a lack of authority, a lack of leadership. I totally agree. People went packing and left for the county, the ones who could, the ones who could afford it. Typically those are people who are more educated as well, again there is the afford factor there (unfortunately). When you have an area with un educated people and educated people, naturally the more abled bodied people are able to help those people. But that requires leadership, and helping , and teaching. It isnt going to happen on its own. Thats why the church, and all houses of faith, that teach good values and morals are needed. When you have good values and morals you are more likely to do what is right.
    The Bishop is the enemy? Maybe the office of the bishop has been guilty in this, but you have to realize, this bishop was left with MANY messes here when he took his post. The parish closures were in the work in the mid nineties. St. Stan’s situation was brewing since the 70’s. I guess my real issue here is people have personified both sides. It seems more like a boxing match then a debate. BUrke isnt necissarily the enemy here. could he have stopped everything? Absolutely. But then there is the potential for a breakdown in authority. This priest came against the orders of his bishop, was hired by the lay board, against the orders of TWO bishops. I am sorry, but the phrase right is right doesnt hold any merit. Look at the Holiest people in history(imo). Padre Pio, stigmata, was told not to reveal it to anyone. Was made to say only one mass a day, at 4 am. St. Francis, originally literally laughed out of the holy see. Juan Diego, saw the Mother of God, as closely as if I was in the same room talking to someone else. He was told by the Bishop not to speak of it unless given a sign (which was given) Yet all of these people obeyed. And eventually hearts were turned, and things worked in their earthly favor. Being a catholic is more then just feeling good one day a week. Its about accepting the teaching and guidance of those that Christ left with us. That being, the Pope and the Bishops. Without that obediance, without that hierarchy, there would be no catholic church. There might be people who hold the catholic faith and practices, but there would be no church. So ultimately, the solution here is submission in my opinion. HOWEVER, there also needs to be some compassion from the Archdiocese. Thats my thoughts.

    [REPLY – Patrick, I appreciate your passion on this issue. But as an outsider working to bring back the City of St. Louis I see the Catholic Church as guilty as many others for fleeing for the suburbs. The Church as built expensive new churches in the suburbs while asking for donations to help the poor in the city. Where was the church when all this was happening for the last 50-60 years? Absent.

    However, this small group of Polish have remained and held strong. Had this structure not existed the church would likely have been closed back in the days of Pruitt-Igoe.

    I have nothing but respect and admiration for the generations of parishioners and boards that have guided St. Stanislaus to where they are today. – SLP]

  10. Patrick says:

    Well as I said both sides are to blame on this. There isnt a innocent party. Thats where my real issue is. People have lumped themselves on one side or another, and there are too many loose ends from my perspective to do that. I totally agree with you that the church(mind you the physical body in st. louis) did dig alot of their own wholes. But people make change. If people want to see change, they have to make it, no matter what. But in being an outsider on this issue, you cant but have to place blame on both parties in this. In Many ways this reminds me of the reformation of the middle ages. And even the church has admitted that Luther had some good points. The neither person really gave, and it took hundreds of years for these people to talk again. I dont want to see that happen here. The only way it wont is for people to try to work with what they have. Let the past be the past, start a new. You cant change the past, only affect what the future brings

  11. Amanda says:

    I have to join patrick here. What many who comment on this situation fail to realize that this is a Catholic church issue. The Catholic Church unlike the vast majority of other churches in America- are run by a central government. There are no “independant” parishes. All operate under the same set of laws- Canon law. This is not nor will it ever likely be up for discussion. If you want to call yourselves a Catholic parish, or a Catholic priest you must abide by Canon Law- period. What the “parish” of St. Stanislaus has done is in direct opposition to Canon Law. So the Archbishop has done exactly what he is appointed to do by the Church. I say good riddance to the board of St. Stanislaus. They have been a pain in the ass for years.

    [REPLY – Amanda, thank you for your contribution. But here is where we have a big difference of opinion. You and others see this as an internal Catholic issue while many of the rest of us see this as a city issue. That is, churches are an important part of stabilizing a community. I’m not Catholic – never was and never will be. I look to the lay board of St. Stans (current and past) as being a stabilizing force in the area. In my heart I know that if they had been like every other Catholic parish in this city it would have closed decades ago and the buildings would be long gone. I have only this special arrangement and the board’s willingness to fight to keep it to thank for the fact the church remains open to this day.

    Please don’t think that all the Catholic church closings don’t affect the rest of us in the city because they do. This is about the city and the well being of the region. – SLP]

  12. Matthew says:

    What this civil corporation at St. Stanislaus Koska is doing is absolutely disgraceful, and I applaud His Excellency Archbishop Burke for having had the fortitude to take the required steps to reign in the dissidents there. That having been said, I also realize that it is probably only about 25% of the people at the parish who are giving the rest a bad name and reputation. Anyone who takes a look at the facts cannot help but to immediately side with the Archdiocese. The Archbishop cannot “seize” any parish funds, as critics and sensationalists have claimed – he is prohibited from doing that by the very Canon Law he is is trying to uphold! The people at St. SK parish have sided themselves squarely against the Church, and they are now reaping the rewards of their shameful actions. Somehow, we Americans have gotten this notion in our head that we are somehow entitled to have things whatever way we want them, and that when someone tells us we can’t have it that way, it means that we’re somehow being “oppressed” or “discriminated against.” If were able, I would personally drive to St. SK parish to lock the doors with chains myself. When the people are ready to submit to the lawful authority of their canonically-installed Archbishop, then he may choose to generously grant them the use of a priest in full communion with the Church, which is the mystical Body of Christ.

    [REPLY – If the parishioners of St. Stans were to submit to the Archbishop then I have no doubt in my mind it would not take 3 years before the parish would be closed and another 2 years before the buildings razed. Keep fighting St. Stans! – SLP]

  13. Theodore says:

    I would like to say that for all those reading this, would go to see the information the Archdiocese has. I encourage you to visit the Archdiocese of Saint Louis’s web page and review all the documents regarding the issue at St. Stans. I peersonally think that unless you comprend both sides of this issue should not you make a judgement. Please, Please do not form your opinion by what you hear on the news solely. Listen to them, read what His Excellency has to say and then form your opinion. I do believe that as Raymond ,as Shepard of the flock, wants the best for his sheep.
    Let us all pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the Board of Directors, Fr. Bozek, and +Archbishop Raymond L. Burke.
    +Thanks and God Bless+

  14. Mary Nguyen says:

    I am a member of the Vietnamese Catholic Community, belonging to the Brisbane Diocese in Australia. Our Vietnamese Catholic Community now is facing the similar situation as St Stanislaus Kostka. I believe, We are and always be one family in the Catholic Church Home. But we, as the Ethnic, Foreign children, we have different needs, which our Home may not and won’t be able to provide us effectively. We should be encouraged to have and keep our own House to be a place catering for our relevant activities, programmes, etc…

  15. Joe Losiak says:

    According to Jesus whom we all believe is God’s son. The Holy Father lives in Heaven. We are not playing baseball here. St. Stans in St. Louis should awaken all Catholics. If you want to stike out with God, just keep on ignoring His way of running the church which includes:
    1. Married Bishops and deacons
    2. Full communion for all believers
    3. Priesthood of all believers ( male and female )
    4. Sainthood of all believers
    5. Prayers to God alone ( no humans get prayed to in God’s word )
    6. Total forgiveness of sin from Calvary’s full payment for all who accept the truth.
    7. No lording ( financial or spiritual ) over believers by spiritual overseerers
    8. Churches submissive to God’s apostolic teaching which is only found in the Bible
    9. Understanding that the apostles taught that churches could go astray and that only the original teachings matter.
    10. Jesus Christ is the only real head of the Church.


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