Szanowni Panstwo! Dear Friends:
At Sunday Mass on March 25, the parishioners of St. Mary’s Polish Parish in Sydney, Nova Scotia, were given a letter from Bishop Brian Dunn, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish. The bishop states as follows: “… I have decided that St. Mary’s Polish Church will remain open for the time being, especially in light of the fact that the 100th anniversary will be held in 2013.”
To read the letter, please click on this link.
The parish was originally proposed for closure by July 2012.
St. Mary’s (Kosciol Narodzenia Najswietszej Maryi Panny) is the only Polish parish in Atlantic Canada and a provincially designated heritage property. The property title is held by the diocese in trust for the parish. The parishioners were and are unanimously opposed to closure.
The spirit of the parish remains very high, and the members are optimistic about the future. We are grateful for your prayers and statements of encouragement and support.
We are relieved that our centenary will not be overshadowed by a move to close this spiritually rich, debt-free, well-maintained, and vibrant church. The parishioners have always financially sustained their church, and the parish is a financial contributor to the diocese.
We are praying that this reprieve represents an opportunity for much-needed face-to-face dialogue between a parish delegation and the bishop.
Furthermore, St. Mary’s Polish Parish is eager to work with other parishes for the good of all, as it has done, and to assist actively with the crucial task of diocesan renewal.
But it is our respectful position that the closure of St. Mary’s Polish Parish is not an option. The spiritual, cultural, and social impact of closing this living parish, this sacred place so cherished by Polish Canadians and others, would be extremely negative.
St. Mary’s Polish Parish submitted a six-binder dossier, including a multi-year plan, prepared with input from all parishioners. The parish also organized a successful pilgrimage to St. Ninian’s Cathedral in Antigonish to reach out in a positive and prayerful way.
Numerous individual parishioners, members of the broader community, provincial and national heritage organizations, and Polish Canadian organizations wrote eloquent letters testifying to the importance of St. Mary’s Polish Parish to the community and to the country.
We remain concerned about the structure of the diocesan pastoral-planning process, which appears awkward and arbitrary, and the criteria, which are not clear. We would welcome an opportunity to discuss how that process can be improved.
We also need a dialogue on the importance of multiculturalism in the universal church. This value is integral to the Roman Catholic tradition and to the Church’s stated belief system. However, the bishop’s letter calls on the parish to make sure that “our culture is clearly distinguished from our faith.” In fact, in the Polish tradition, the two are closely intertwined. This was so often mentioned by the late Pope John Paul II, a Pole. All the Polish cultural organizations in the region are based in the parish and take an active part in the spiritual life of the parish.
St. Mary’s Polish Parish wishes to sincerely acknowledge supporters around the world who provided, and are providing, their prayers and encouragement. Serdecznie dziekujemy! Bog zaplac!
We will continue to include updates on the parish website.