End of special liturgy at St. Stan has some poised to exit church

End of special liturgy at St. Stan has some poised to exit church

By Sean Barron

news@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Stanislaw Radomski met and married his wife, Josephine, at St. Stanislaus Church, has been a 37-year member and raised his two sons there. But those strong ties likely won’t be enough to keep him coming back.

“I really don’t think that is the best solution that happened here,” the Boardman man said, referring to a recent decision to discontinue the weekly 9 a.m. Polish Mass at the church, 430 Williamson Ave., on the city’s South Side.

“We have to swallow that bitter pill.”

On Sunday, Radomski was one of about 70 parishioners who attended what will likely be St. Stanislaus’ final regularly scheduled Polish liturgy.

He also is among those who said they might start attending other Catholic churches in response to the decision.

As part of a diocesan reorganization plan, the Diocese of Youngstown and Bishop George V. Murry have announced that St. Stanislaus, St. Casimir and St. Columba will be merged units with one priest and one parish. The number of locations is to be determined.

A shortage of priests in the Youngstown Diocese was part of what prompted the Rev. Ed Neroda, pastor, to cut the weekly 9 a.m. Polish Mass and perform a service in English at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday at the 86-year-old church, he said.

Father Neroda said another main consideration is his failing health, which makes it difficult to conduct three Masses each week. The 80-year-old priest, who joined St. Stanislaus in 1980, suffers from congestive heart failure and tires easily.

Father Neroda, thought to be the oldest priest in the local Diocese, said he doesn’t understand why some parishioners are contemplating leaving St. Stanislaus for other churches, especially since none has Masses in Polish.

“I don’t know why they want to go to another church where they’re going to speak English anyway,” he continued, adding that on the fourth and fifth Sunday of every month, St. Stanislaus will have Mass in English and offer Polish music.

Many parishioners, however, are upset that the Polish Mass will no longer be celebrated, Radomski said, adding that he is considering going to a church closer to his home.

Radomski said he understands Father Neroda is in poor health but wishes the priest would have looked at bringing in someone who knows Polish instead of cutting the Mass altogether.

The situation at St. Stanislaus is a microcosm of what’s occurring in the Diocese, but it’s important to recognize the needs of Polish parishioners, many of whom immigrated to the Mahoning Valley after World War II, explained Ted Szmaj,a lifelong St. Stanislaus member.

For about three years, Szmaj, of Youngstown, has been part of the choir, and has served in several other capacities, he said.

“I hate to see it go by the wayside, but I will support those at this church any way I can,” Szmaj added.

The Polish Mass was established at the church in 1966 for those with Polish as their primary language, noted Marianne Klimko, one of St. Stanislaus’ two organists.

The Mass brought a lot of people closer to one another. Even many of those who didn’t know Polish enjoyed the choir’s interpretation of songs in that language, explained Klimko, who’s attended weekly Masses since 1971.

“This is a major change in the way we will be worshiping and what we’re doing,” she said, fighting back tears. “We’re going forward, but I hope to keep as much Polish tradition going as possible.”

 
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