250 attend Mass backing Burke in St. Stanislaus Kostka fight.

By Aisha Sultan
Of the Post-Dispatch
03/14/2005
 
Both sides in dispute remain deadlocked, are rallying supporters.


Both sides deadlocked in the St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church dispute seem to be engaged in a back-and-forth volley of Masses, marches and support rallies.

About 250 worshippers attended a "solidarity" Mass Sunday at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist Church downtown to show support for Archbishop Raymond Burke and his efforts to wrest control of the church's governance from a lay board of directors.

The previous Sunday, those supporting the board of directors' efforts to keep the church independent held a prayer vigil and march from the Cathedral Basilica to the Archdiocese chancery. Richard Bach, a spokesman for parishioners opposed to Burke's claims, said about 300 people participated.

St. Stanislaus, which is northwest of downtown, has been controlled by its own board since 1891. It was the home of Polish-language Masses until August, when Burke temporarily transferred the Polish apostolate to St. John and removed the priests from St. Stanislaus. About 80 to 100 Polish Catholics loyal to Burke attend Mass at St. John, but they will be transferred permanently to St. Agatha parish on July 1.

Eugene Brzyski, 62, of Olivette, said the Polish supporters at St. John sent a letter explaining their side of the story to all of the area parishes and asked for their support. He said about two-thirds of those attending Sunday came from other parishes.

"We are surprised and we are very, very pleased," he said. Brzyski added that Burke has given the board ample guarantees that St. Stan's will not be closed down. He said the continued fighting boils down to who will control the parish.

Bach, however, said recent reports about development near St. Stanislaus church only confirm parishioners' fears that their property eventually will be sold to the highest bidder by the archdiocese.

There will be a monthly "Mass of Solidarity with Archbishop Burke" at St. John on the second Sunday of each month. The parishioners at St. Stanislaus continue to hold weekly prayer services at the church and are seeking a priest to resume Mass.

Reporter Aisha Sultan
E-mail: asultan@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 314-340-8300
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