ADAMS -- When the first official Mass in over three years is celebrated at St. Stanislaus Kostka Mission Church on Palm Sunday, those attending can anticipate it will be standing room only for the 8 a.m. service.
The service will be the first in the former St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, since it was closed at the end of December 2008 as part of a merger of the Catholic churches in Adams by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
Former parishioners appeal ed the closure to the Vatican in Rome, with more than 200 members sitting vigil over 1,150 days until the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court of appeals, ruled in favor of reopening the church, but only as a mission of Bless ed Pope John Paul the Great Parish.
"We have a bus of 55 people from Mater Dolorosa Parish in Holyoke arriving at 7:30 a.m.," Fran Hajdas, a founding vigil member, said Thursday. "We've been working with them from the first day that they began their vigil. I went down to lend them our support and we've gone to meetings in Boston together. We've given each other all kinds of support over the years."
Mater Dolorosa Parish, an other Polish-American church in the diocese, was merged with Holy Cross Church in 2011, to form the parish of Our Lady of the Cross parish. Members of the parish are currently holding their own around-the-clock vigil during an appeal to the Vatican.
Hajdas also anticipates many former parishioners and family members from outside the area will return for the celebration, which will include a special procession of about 150 vigil members at the start of the Mass.
Vigil member and life-long parishioner Henry "Hank" Tomkowicz said the special palms have been created for the procession by Theresa Zelazo, daughter of longtime organist John Sumaj, who died last June.
"It's a new beginning for us," Tomkowitcz said Monday. "It was closed for 1,150 days, but now it's back alive after a long struggle. It may not be its own parish again, but we have our be loved church back. I'm pretty sure it will be filled with people."
A reception, which is open to the public, will follow in the Mass, in Kolbe Hall, located in the basement of the church.
Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week for Christians, commemorates the return of Jesus to Jerusalem. Noted in all four canonical Gospels, the basis for the celebration is based on Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, symbolizing that he came in peace. As Jesus rode into the city, people celebrated his coming by laying down their cloaks and palm fronds for him to ride over -- a gesture of the highest honor. Catholics commemorate the act by receiving palms in church on Palm Sunday.
Although the reopening of Saint Stanislaus was announced in February, the opening was timed to coincide with Holy Week, according to Mark Dupont, diocesan spokesman.
"It was the Rev. Daniel Boyle's wish that there be proper time to prepare for the reopening and that he wanted to be present for it," Dupont said. "It seemed fitting to do so at the start of the holiest days in the church calendar -- Holy Week. By doing so, this will allow for some of the Polish customs, which also mark this week, to be celebrated at St. Stanislaus."
One of those traditions will be marked on Good Friday, April 6 at 3 p.m., according to Hajdas.
"One of our traditions is to walk up the aisle on our knees on Good Friday," he said.
The tradition, which is a form of penance, will follow the Stations of the Cross at the church at 2 p.m. Also taking place at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 6, will be a Young People's Way of the Cross Mass at Pope John Paul Church, followed at 7 p.m. by a liturgy of the Lord's Passion.
On Saturday, April 7, the traditional Blessing of the Easter Foods will be held at Kolbe Hall at 9 a.m., with an Easter Vigil to be held at Pope John Paul at 8 p.m. Easter Masses are scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 8 at 8 a.m. at St. Stanislaus and at 10:15 a.m. at Pope John Paul.