As the sun shone through the stained glass windows of St. Stanislaus Kostka Mission Church on Palm Sunday, tears flowed as the faithful rejoiced in the reopening of their church -- a historic moment and a new beginning for the Roman Catholic Community of Adams.
For many of the faithful that filled the church to standing-room only capacity on Sunday, there was never a question of "if" St. Stanislaus Kostka would reopen, but "when" it would reopen.
"I was angry that it was closed and disappointed, but then I just felt it and knew that it would be reopened," Patricia Kelly said, as she wiped away tears of joy prior to the start of Mass.
Some chalk it up to the stubbornness of the Polish communicants who refused to leave the church built by the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Some call it a miracle. One thing is certain -- St. Stanislaus will live on to serve several more generations.
With the reopening of St. Stan's, there is cause for much celebration and rejoicing, not only amongst its long-time members, but for the whole Parish of Blessed John Paul the Great.
The 2008 decision of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield to shutter the church cast a dark cloud over the town's Catholic community. Instead of uniting the community through the merger of Notre Dame des Sept Delores, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Stanislaus, it drove a wedge between those who joined the new parish and those who refused to go. Many parishioners of St. Stanislaus either chose to worship in other towns or stopped attending Mass altogether. On Sunday, they returned to their home church, happy to be back in their familiar place of worship and among friends.
While Sunday's service lifted the dark cloud that has hung over the Catholic community in Adams for over three years, there is still much work and much healing that needs to take place to make the Parish of Blessed John Paul the Great whole again. Palm Sunday was the first step -- a new chapter, a new beginning for all.