Despite Order, Church Celebrates Easter.

March 27, 2005.
By Victor Ojeda

A church told it could not celebrate Easter defied those orders and held services anyway.

St. Stanislaus Kostka -- a Roman Catholic church with a Polish-heritage majority had its Easter Mass Sunday morning with a secret and unidentified priest as a celebrant. The parish is at odds with the Archdiocese of St. Louis -- because its lay board of directors refuses to relinquish control of its property and assets to Archbishop Raymond Burke. In June of last year, Burke removed their priest and banned Masses.

For Easter -- they defied the order and found a priest from Poland sympathetic to their cause. The board of directors flew in the celebrant, but would not name him because they fear repercussions from the archbishop. "We don't like to put our supporters in jeopardy you could say. He has volunteered to come and help us out and we welcome that all the time," lay board member John Baras said.

This is only the second time St. Stanislaus has had a priest since their public feud with the archbishop began almost a year ago. The only other time they had a mass here was Christmas. Parishioners said it is sad that they must shepherd a celebrant cloaked in secrecy, but one member, Vicky Aitken, said they refuse to give up their Roman Catholic religion. "It means so much to us as Polish people that we want to make sure our spiritual needs are taken care of," she said.

Even if it means doing so without the blessing of their church leaders. An archdiocese spokesperson said Archbishop Burke would not comment on Sunday's Easter Mass, nor would he take any action against the priest or St. Stanislaus.

Copyright © 2005, KPLR
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