On Sunday the Saint Mary Polish American Society held a meeting to discuss options to maintain the Saint Mary Church property, which has been formally requested to be relegated (made no longer a church). We had hoped to attend the meeting, but we had promised the family a trip to the zoo.
We emailed the organizer, David Swedkowski, and asked for a recap of the meeting. Here is what he shared with us:
St. Mary Polish American Society held a general meeting at the Lannutti Post on Sunday afternoon. At the meeting, we discussed many recent developments pertaining to St. Mary’s Church. We were joined in person by my good friend Brody Hale, a church preservation expert from Massachusetts, who made a presentation to the group about his work with several successful church preservation groups throughout the United States. We distinguished between a parish (St. Mary’s has ceased to exist as a parish following the merger) and a church (St. Mary’s remains a functioning Catholic Church until it is formally relegated (permanently closed) by an official decree of Church hierarchy We discussed what Canon Law (the policies governing church affairs) says pertaining to the relegation of church buildings, emphasizing that “grave cause” must exist to permanently close a church building, and that only two situations constitute this grave cause; structural damage beyond the possibility of repair, or that no funds are present (of any type) to care for a church building. If a parish argues that relegation is needed because of this financial hardship, Canon Law states that it must be demonstrated that other reasonable sources of funding or assistance have been considered and found lacking or inadequate.
A church cannot be relegated if a group steps forward with a reasonable viable plan to care for and maintain the church building as a sacred space; currently over 70 such groups exist throughout the United States. That is where St. Mary Polish American Society steps in; to raise money for the ongoing maintenance and upkeep costs associated with St. Mary’s Church building, while holding events to promote Polish heritage and culture in and around Montgomery County in the process. Ideally, we would like to be able to restore St. Mary’s Church, so it can remain a sacred space and community treasure for generations to come, and be able to use it for occasional Mass (every month or two), celebrating different Polish customs and traditions there throughout the year.
We also announced several upcoming events hosted by St. Mary Polish American Society. Next Sunday, and every Sunday moving forward at 12:30 pm, we will begin holding a brief prayer service (taking the form of either a rosary, a litany, a novena, a Divine Mercy Chaplet, or other prayers, depending on the week) at the Mary statue alongside St. Mary’s Church; all are invited to come to be a part of these beautiful public displays of our Catholic faith and devotion to Mary, and dedication to our Polish heritage. We also announced that we will have a crowning of the Mary statue next to St. Mary’s Church on Sunday May 1st at 12:30, a celebration which will incorporate some elements of Polish heritage. We are happy to announce the first annual (Montgomery County) Polka Fest celebration fundraiser which will take place on Sunday June 26th from Noon to 6 at the TK Club on Hector Street, an event which will include a Polka band and dancing, Polish food, games, baked goods for sale, and much more. We are also planning to hold the first annual Montgomery County Polish Festival in mid to late September, stay tuned for more information about this and other upcoming events. Anyone interested in attending or volunteering at any of these events, can get in touch with St. Mary Polish American Society to receive more information.
A lot of things were mentioned in the above text. Below are the relevant links:
- Saint Mary Polish American Society website
- Facebook page
- GoFundMe page
- Facebook event for weekly Novena at statue
- Facebook event for Crowning of Mary statue
- First Annual Polka Fest at the TK Club
So reach out to the society if you are interested in getting involved with this effort.