St. Stanislaus hires new priest!

By Tim Townsend

The Rev. Marek B. Bozek, associate pastor of St. Agnes Cathedral in Springfield, Mo., was named new parish priest for St. Stanislaus Church.

In a defiant challenge to Archbishop Raymond Burke's authority as the leader of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the board of directors of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church has hired a Roman Catholic priest from the neighboring diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau to be its parish pastor.

The Rev. Marek B. Bozek will take over at St. Stanislaus, without Burke's consent. Bozek, 30, was associate pastor at St. Agnes Cathedral in Springfield, Mo., and is a native of Poland. He will celebrate his first Mass at St. Stanislaus on Christmas Eve.

"I am deeply saddened by this action, which causes further damage to the Church, not only here in St. Louis, but in the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau as well," said Burke in a statement.

Burke and the Polish-heritage parishioners of St. Stanislaus have been in a legal battle over control of the church for nearly two years.

In an interview Friday, Bozek said Bishop John J. Leibrecht, leader of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese, had asked Burke if the priest could take a leave of absence to shepherd St. Stanislaus while the dispute over control was resolved. Burke refused, and Bozek resigned from St. Agnes Friday.

"I find it my sacred duty as an ordained Catholic priest to answer the call of the people of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish," Bozek wrote to Leibrecht. "They are the People of God in need of a spiritual leader and a pastor, and I am willing to answer their call, which I believe to be the call of God himself."

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