St. Stan board votes to dissolve itself...

By Tim Townsend

ST. LOUIS In a 4-3 vote Thursday night, the lay board of St. Stanislaus Kostka church voted to dissolve itself and allow the parishioners to elect a new board at its annual meeting in August, board members said.

The deciding vote was cast by the Rev. Marek Bozek, the church's excommunicated pastor, who also made the motion to dissolve the board. All the board's members have also been declared excommunicated.

The Vatican is studying a request from St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke to laicize, or defrock, Bozek, and a recent story in the Post-Dispatch disclosed that the pastor had been in discussions to bring St. Stanislaus under the authority of Emmanuel Milingo, an excommunicated Zambian archbishop associated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church.

Over the last week, the board had met two times to decide Bozek's future as the church's pastor. Both times the board voted 3-3 as to whether the priest should be fired. Bozek took matters into his own hands Thursday night and joined the board in voting for the dissolution of the board. In an interview, Bozek said he was allowed to vote because the matter at hand was not directly related to him.

Stan Rozanski, a board member who voted to fire Bozek, said Thursday's vote to dissolve the board was probably illegal.

"If there's a legal remedy here, I'll pursue it," Rozanski said. "I was elected to a three-year term by the people of this parish. My family's been a part of this parish since 1905."

The church has been at odds with the St. Louis Archdiocese since 2004, when lay leaders of St. Stanislaus refused Burke's instruction to conform to the same legal and financial structure as all other parishes.

The parish had managed itself in a special arrangement dating to the 19th century. After Burke removed priests from the parish, the Polish-born Bozek left his assignment in Springfield, Mo., without permission in December 2005 to become St. Stanislaus' pastor.

Burke quickly declared that Bozek had excommunicated himself by committing "schism" from his superiors. Soon afterward, the archbishop declared the St. Stanislaus board members to be excommunicated and stripped the parish of its standing as a Roman Catholic parish. 314-340-8221

Copyright 2008 St. Louis Post-Dispatch L.L.C. All rights reserved.