ADAMS -- A Christmas tradition will return to St. Stanislaus Kostka Mission Church after four years, when the first midnight Mass since 2008 takes place on Christmas Eve.
"There's a lot of churches across different dioceses that got away from midnight Masses, or started doing it earlier," the Rev. Daniel Boyle said Friday.
Boyle said he and the Parish of Blessed John Paul's Spiritual Life Committee began discussions on bringing the tradition back starting in the late summer.
"After reflection, we felt it was the right thing to do, in order to enhance our spiritual community," Boyle said.
St. Stan's was one of the first American Roman Catholic churches to be reopened for weekly worship services after being slated for closure. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield closed the 110-year old church and suppressed the parish as a cost-cutting measure in 2008. Parishioners of St. Stan's held a round-the-clock vigil for 1,150 days starting Dec. 28, 2008, and pursued appeals of the closure that made their way to the highest courts of the Vatican. The church was constantly occupied by parishioners until Feb. 18, 2012, when the Springfield diocese announced it would reopen as a place of worship and a mission church of the Parish of Blessed John Paul.
For this year's gathering, music will begin at St. Stan's at 11:30 p.m. Monday. Christmas carols will be sung in both English and Polish before the Mass begins at midnight. Rev. Boyle and Deacon Greg LaFrenier will officiate.
Hank Tomkowicz, of Adams, a main vigil organizer following the church's closing, said he was excited to see the tradition return after several years and loved the idea of a midnight Mass.
"It's the idea of keeping the Christmas spirit alive," he said. He explained that ringing in Christmas Day as a group was a powerful experience, enhanced by the beautiful church decorations.
"The scenery will be something," Tomkowicz said.
Boyle said decorating the church is a group effort.
"You cannot do something to that scale alone," he said. Over a hundred people purchased poinsettias, he said, each in memory of a loved one. In addition, some parishioners make monetary donations in memory of a loved one. The decorations, lights, music and people all come together to create a warm atmosphere.
"There's always a sense of peace and tranquility despite the late hour," Boyle said.
Adams resident Dola Lipinski, a vigil member who's attended St. Stan's since birth, said she was ecstatic for the Mass' return.
"I can't even describe the feeling," she said. "I'm just so happy."
Lipinski and her husband, Joseph, who passed away last year, both participated in the vigil. Lipinski said while many vigil members were hurt about the closing, she hopes everyone can move forward.
"The vigil is water under the bridge and out in the Pacific Ocean," she said. "The church reopening is an absolute blessing."
"I never felt any bitter feelings at all," she added, referring to her time in the vigil. "I just always prayed it would reopen."
As for the number of attendees expected on Christmas Eve, Boyle said the Easter and Palm Sunday Masses drew in a huge number of people and he guessed there'd a minimum of 500 people for this event.
People like Dola Lipinski are preparing for an emotional evening.
"I don't think there will be a dry eye in there," she said.
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