"I'm sorry I don't have the news you were hoping to hear, but I do hope that you will find that God never closes a door without opening a window, and his grace will lead you forth," said McDonnell, bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, as he concluded his homily.
McDonnell was joined by Rev. Daniel J. Boyle, Rev. C.J. Weitakus, pastor at St. Anne's in Lenox, Monsignor John J. Bonzagni and Rev. Alexei Michalenko, who was baptized and ordained at St. Stan's.
Michalenko said the closing of the church is sad.
"I came here to be here with everybody and cry for the occasion," he said.
Parishioners began shedding tears following communion when the candles on the altar were extinguished.
"I'm devastated because a magnificent, historic and holy church has been closed by the greed of the diocesan hierarchy," said Judith Belanger of Adams, who has been a member of St. Stan's, as she left the church.
She said her parents were married at St. Stan's, she was married at the church, her three children were baptized there, and her grandparents helped build it.
"This church has been our
Jim Nowak and his son, Jimmy, 15, both attended the Mass.
"It was just really touching," Jimmy said. "There is a lot of history in this church."
Nowak said he supposed McDonnell is just doing his job in closing the church, but thinks it's a bad decision.
"Look at how beautiful it is," he said. "How can anyone just close it?"
During his homily, McDonnell reiterated the reasons for closing St. Stan's and asked parishioners to go back to the 1880s, when people in Poland first made the journey to Adams to build a better life. He asked if tradition and identity could be carried over 6,000 miles over an ocean, "why can't it be carried a few blocks away?"
McDonnell then spoke about the church and how there are memories from it that can never be replaced, but that what makes a church special is the altar and the Eucharist.
"We gather so that the gift of the Eucharist might be given to us and Christ will be present on the altar," he said. "What happens on the altar is key, everything else is secondary."
He stressed that members of St. Stan's and St. Thomas Aquinas, which had it's final Mass on Dec. 21, and Notre Dame need to come together.
"The city of Adams once had three thriving churches, and now we need one church working with the other," he said.
All three churches are being combined into Notre Dame's facility under the name of Pope John Paul the Great.
Between 50 and 70 people stood across from St. Stan's on Hoosac Street beginning at 2 p.m. to picket the Mass. Several people had written signs including one stating, "Shame, Injustice, Devastation, Why?"
McDonnell went over to the people picketing and prayed with them before serving the Mass.
Jim Biros of Adams, who was one of the people picketing, said with the closing of St. Stan's there are no more churches of Polish background in Berkshire County.
"It's a sad day. My heart hurts, and I feel bad for my children," he said.
Biros' daughter, Lisa, of Adams and Tim Rougeau of North Adams, whose girlfriend is Lisa's sister, joined Jim Biros and the other people picketing during the Mass.
While overall the Mass went along as planned, parishioners did begin to show defiance of the Diocese's decision following McDonnell's homily.
For approximately five minutes following the homily, Norman Damico of Clarksburg pleaded with McDonnell to give St. Stan's back to the people.
Following his exchange with McDonnell, Damico walked out of St. Stan's and stood on the steps crying.
"I lived in Poland for two years and taught in Poland. They're a proud people," he said.
Damico said he also attended the closings of Our Lady of Mercy and St. Francis of Assisi in North Adams Sunday morning, and usually attends St. Anthony of Padua in North Adams. He said at the Masses in North Adams he wanted to address McDonnell, but "bit my tongue."
He compared going to the church closing Masses in North Adams and Adams Sunday like going to a funeral.
After the Mass, some parishioners began to actively question the bishop as to why the church was closing.
"Why are you taking this church away from my son?" Neil Kuplec of Adams said to McDonnell following the Mass.
Kuplec also briefly blocked members of the Knights of Columbus as they exited the church before Irene Cwalinski of Adams asked him to move aside and "not to do anymore."
Cwalinski also questioned McDonnell about why the Diocese was closing the church.
Sonia Young, who moved from Alaska to Adams a few months ago, said the St. Stan's community deserves to be together.
Young also challenged McDonnell's statement during the Mass that a gathering around the Eucharist is what makes a Catholic community, and turned away sobbing when he tried to give her a blessing.
Despite McDonnell reading a statement following the Mass declaring the church closed and it's consolidation with St. Thomas and Notre Dame into one parish, several members of St. Stan's refused to give up. Those parishioners are continuing a vigil that began 10 a.m. Friday to keep the Diocese from locking the doors until the Vatican decides on an appeal asking to keep the church open.
"We will maintain the vigil as long as we are allowed to do so," said Francis Hajvas of Adams, Friends of St. Stan's vigil committee spokesman.
He said Peter Borre, co-chairman of the Council of Parishes in Boston, has been advising the group how to go about appealing the church closing, and Hajvas and Borre came up with the idea of handing out a yellow piece of paper at the beginning of the Mass asking parishioners to be respectful.
McDonnell said the Diocese has no response to those holding a vigil at the church.
"Right now there is no way of knowing what will happen and what is going to happen. It's a family disagreement I hope is resolved," he said.
To reach Meghan Foley, e-mail email@example.com.