2012 Annual Report

Walne Zgromadzenie Roczne
Annual General Meeting: Sunday, January 27, 2013
„Nie lękajcie się drodzy Bracia i Siostry przyjąć władzę Chrystusa… Nie lękajcie się. Otwórzcie dla Niego drzwi!”
“Be not afraid, dear brothers and sisters, to accept the leadership of Christ. Be not afraid. Open the doors to him.”
-Blessed Pope John Paul II, October 22, 1978.

In 2012, St. Mary’s Polish Parish confronted crisis with prayer, determination, and hard work. We emerged stronger as a parish. We came together as a spiritual family, sincere in our faith. We also demonstrated how integral our heritage, our customs, and our traditions are to the practice of our faith, while reaching out to the broader community.

Last January, the Pastoral Planning Committee of the Diocese of Antigonish recommended closing our parish in July of 2012. We met as a parish and unanimously opposed this recommendation. We called for volunteers to a Parish Planning Team, and we collectively undertook a major effort:

  • We developed a three-year strategic plan (Renewal and Service) to show our commitment to continued viability.
  • We prepared a six-binder dossier for the diocese, which showed our overall health and solvency, our unique characteristics, our history, our present-day activities, our impact in the broader community, and our support from the broader Cape Breton community as well as the Polish community across Canada.
  • We organized a pilgrimage to St. Ninian’s Cathedral in Antigonish, which brought us together in a prayerful way.
  • We launched a major on-line and paper petition.
  • We told our story, in a positive manner, in the media.
  • We learned about our rights and responsibilities under Canon Law as well as under civil law.

Bishop Brian Dunn granted a reprieve, with further review after the 100th anniversary. We proposed a constructive process of dialogue with the bishop in the hope that we can come to an agreement on a pastoral plan that meets the needs of the parish and the diocese.
In July, we learned of a diocesan decision to sell the O’Connell House to help pay for the legal settlement with victims of abuse. An appeal of this sale was filed under Canon law, and the sale was put on hold pending dialogue between the bishop and the Planning Team.
The dialogue is now scheduled to begin on January 30.

St. Mary’s Polish Parish Pilgrimage to St. Ninian’s Cathedral – February 25, 2012

The Planning Team, which came together to assist with efforts to retain our parish, to develop the strategic plan in consultation with parishioners (this was the Renewal and Service Plan, 2012-2015, completed in March), and to encourage parishioners to take on various 100th anniversary activities, became the Acting Rada Duszpasterska (Pastoral Council) when the new By-laws took effect on October 28. The members of the Planning Team are Marjorie Ardelli, Carolyn Kiley, Toni LaRusic, Tony Melski, Shari McKay, Elaine Tynski-Shipley, Krista Ann Starzomski, and Tom Urbaniak.


The Interim Finance Committee took office in August 2012 following a call for volunteers. Their work is much appreciated, as is that of their predecessor Finance Committee. The current members are Andrzej Cebula (Chair), Paul Tynski, Shauna McKay, Jola Cebula, Janusz Wawrzyszyn, and Edmund Rudiuk.
*A special thanks is extended to Paul Tynski for his tireless day-to-day work on administration, liturgical preparations, and other essential functions of the parish.
The Interim Finance Committee also invited feedback on what church improvements should be prioritized, and it is hoped that some of these will be the subject of grant requests and legacy fund-raising drives during the 100th anniversary year. There will be further news in upcoming bulletins.
The parish completes the year in a healthy (surplus) financial position. Financial statements are included in this report.


This committee was convened in August following a call for volunteers. Members are Stephanie Black, Evelyn Cook, Janet Hawthorne, Michael Melski, Tony Melski, Frank Starzomski, and Tom Urbaniak.
The committee reviewed diocesan policies and documents from past parish Radas. Draft by-laws were prepared, reviewed by Father Paul as well as diocesan judicial vicar Father John Barry, and circulated to the parish for feedback. Revisions were made based on the input, and the new by-laws were adopted at a Special General Meeting of the parish on October 28. This was an important milestone for us.


These are very important spiritual offices, and we were pleased to welcome several new volunteers, who have either already begun their service or who will be invited shortly to a training program.

The choir, under the direction of Mary Pierrynowski, has continued to do us proud. It is the only Polish choir in Cape Breton, and it is has preserved a rich legacy handed to us by our ancestors. Most parishioners and visitors agree that they have seldom heard this enormous repetoire interpreted as well as it is by our choir. This year, in conjunction with the Feast of St. Cecilia (patron saint of church music), the parish organized a special blessing and presented special tokens of appreciation to our choir.


In August, we adopted a new format for the bulletin to include more information about parish activities, more images, more background information on the unique customs that we continue to observe at our parish and how they originated, more acknowledgment of our volunteers, as well as explanations of various liturgies and hymns. The overall feedback on the new format has been very positive, and we regularly receive requests from people outside the parish who wish to receive copies of the bulletin.

provided by Tony Melski
A century ago, the St. Michael’s Polish Benefit Society petitioned for the establishment of our beautiful church and has been active in it ever since. The Polish Village Hall, owned by the Society and renovated in the past year, is an important complement to St. Mary’s Polish Church.
On February 25 2012, members of the St. Michael’s Society proudly joined the parish on the pilgrimage to celebrate mass at St. Ninian’s Cathedral in Antigonish. Society members were able to obtain a police escort for the congregation from our parish to the city limits. At the Mass, members dressed in their red blazers and served as ushers at this memorable event. 
Through the year, St. Michael’s members continue to participate in parish events and celebrations such as Boże Ciało and Mass for Shut-ins, among others. On September 30, 2012, to coincide with the feast of St. Michael, Father Paul Murphy offered a special blessing to the St. Michael’s Polish Benefit Society recognizing the Society’s close affiliation with the parish. The whole parish joined in prayer, we prepared a special explanatory program for the Mass, and a community lunch followed.
In 2012, a new provincial statute (An Act to Amend the St. Michael’s Polish Benefit Society Act) was proclaimed in effect by the Lieutenant Governor, after having been passed unanimously by the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. It modernizes the Society’s structure while maintaining its traditions. The Society brings together men and women who are dedicated to the community.
The St. Michael’s Polish Benefit Society will continue to make contributions to the community and strive to keep the spiritual and cultural traditions of our parish alive.


The Altar Society has a rich heritage, extending almost as long as the church itself. On January 6th, a productive re-organization meeting was held of new and recent volunteers. A list of tasks and a schedule for the next several months was prepared.

This year, we welcomed five new children into our program as well as a new Catechism teacher. 
The youngest group of children has been busy learning about the importance of God in our lives as well as the merits of belonging to a spiritual community.  We have also been busy preparing the children for a more comprehensive participation in the Mass. As a result, two of our young children received the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and three children have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Furthermore, we recently welcomed two new altar servers to the church with one more to begin in the spring.
The older children are currently preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation and are embarking on new endeavours that promote both spiritual and cultural growth and foster a stronger sense of belonging.

– provided by Elaine Tynski-Shipley
Over the course of 2012, St. Mary’s Polish Parish held a variety of special liturgical celebrations encompassing both familiar spiritual and cultural traditions as well as re-instating some celebrations that had not been held for a number of years. 
On April 15th, Father Paul led a special service celebrating the Divine Mercy which included the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, readings, hymns by the choir and the recitation of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.  Not only was this special service attended by our own parishioners, but many people from neighbouring parishes were also present.
On June 10th, we re-instated the Boże Ciało (Corpus Christi) liturgical celebration, although in a more modified version compared to years past.  We once again welcomed the participation of parishioners from neighbouring parishes as well as members of the local CWL to celebrate with us, resulting in a full congregation for this service.  Father Paul, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, led the congregation in a procession around the sanctuary of the church.  Following the service, everyone was invited downstairs for refreshments.
We marked November 2nd, All Souls’ Day, with a special Mass in our parish to pray for eternal rest for those whom we have lost as well as for those who do not have loved ones to remember them.  On the Sunday prior to this day, parishioners were invited to bring any wreaths, flowers or candles that they planned to take to gravesides for a special blessing.  As well, parishioners were invited to record the names of the loved ones for whom they prayed in a special “Book of Remembrance” which was placed at the back of the church.
Our parish’s participation in the televised Mass for Shut-ins, coinciding with the Feast of Christ the King, went very well, giving a sense of the different facets and vibrancy of our parish life.
Our parish lunch on December 2nd was attended by a very special guest.  St. Nicholas made a visit to our parish, and in keeping with the Polish tradition linked to the Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6th), he brought small gifts and treats for the children of our parish.
As has been our custom for many years, our choir provided their beautiful rendition of traditional kolędy (Polish carols) prior to Pasterka (Midnight Mass) on Christmas Eve.  The Mass was celebrated entirely by candlelight, which added a peace and tranquility to this holiest of nights.    
As we began our 100th anniversary year, Father Paul and Father Alex graciously agreed to resume our tradition of having our homes blessed.  Let this be the beginning of a blessed year for our parish and for all those who we welcome into our community of faith.


Our hospitality volunteers have been exceptional, working on various events as well as special visits (such as the Heritage Conference tour and lunch in June). Volunteers also undertook the pierogi fund-raiser before Christmas. Please refer to past bulletins for notes from Peggy Ryba thanking the various volunteers.


Our website (www.stmaryspolishparish.ca) offers comprehensive information on the parish, as well as various photographs and updates. Bulletins are posted weekly. We thank webmaster Chris Shipley for his prompt and highly qualified volunteer service.

provided by Shari McKay
The parishioners of St. Mary's have always been fiercely proud of their Polish roots. Therefore, they were very keen to embrace the tradition of an annual Polish Festival when encouraged by priests from the 'Society of Christ', an order whose mandate is to serve Polonia. This annual tradition lasted nearly two decades, ending in 2008. In light of the events of 2012, the Planning Team felt that it was necessary to reinstate the popular festival in order to preserve and promote Polish culture in Cape Breton and to help maintain the multicultural mosaic of the local community.
On 9 September 2012, St. Mary's held a hugely successful festival with approximately 500 people in attendance. Cultural performances were provided by Pogoria Polish Folk Ensemble, Pomorze Polish Dance Ensemble, St. Cecilia Polish Choir and Zavtra-Yuviley Ukrainian Dance Group. Church tours, children's games and traditional Polish food were also part of the numerous festival highlights.
Thanks to the CBRM for the loan and set-up of a temporary stage, to ECBC for a $1000 festival grant and to the efforts of numerous volunteers, St. Mary's was able to generate $4118.23 profit during the afternoon event.   To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the parish, a larger scale Polish festival is planned for 8 September 2013.

The choir of St. Mary’s Polish Parish performs during the parish’s Polish Festival, September 9, 2012.

Our parish was responsible for filling 52 boxes with gifts for children in need in impoverished regions of the world. This was an excellent result, especially for the first year. Thank you to Suzanne Campbell for organizing.


CBU researchers Patricia and Justin Nalepa, who are assisting us with certain 100th anniversary projects, have completed an on-line, three-dimensional virtual tour, with many historical details. It is impressive and can be accessed through our website.


Thank you to everyone who has shared ideas or offered to take on projects. A tentative schedule was included with the bulletin on January 6th and is on the parish website: www.stmaryspolishparish.ca . We are looking forward to many successful events and activities this year.