Cardinal Cupich Celebrates
150 Years of Chicago’s Oldest Polish Parish

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It is often difficult for non-Catholics to understand the traditions and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church. Sometimes it is difficult for me to understand them, even though I was raised in them. I watched spellbound on Sunday, April 23, the throngs gathered inside St. Stanislaus Kostka, the mother church of Polish Catholicism in Chicago, to celebrate the parish’s 150th anniversary. Cardinal Blase Cupich (left, rear) was the draw, and I slipped around to the back of the church just in time to see the Cardinal and his entourage, including St. Stan’s own Father Anthony Buś (front), assemble for a procession into the church for a special 2:00 p.m. mass on “Divine Mercy Sunday.”

The sun was shining, and I was able to get a seat in the balcony below the choir loft overlooking the altar and the gorgeous Tiffany chandeliers that are the crowning glory of St. Stan’s remarkable architecture, which is in the throes of restoration. Although I have been a parishoner for close to 20 years, I had never seen the balcony, and the view of the altar is spectacular. Father Buś talked about the history of the parish and “the church that moved an expressway” in the 1960s when the church was nearly demolished to make way for I-90/94.

I biked to the event. Good thing, since parking places were unusually sparce, and the church was fuller than I have ever seen it. Father Buś observed that “people came from near and far.” He said later that “their compliments to me…were heartwarming and gave me a wonderful sense of joy.I had to concur with our visitors that St. Stanislaus Kostka is blessed with a very diverse people–united, hardworking, and fully committed to the partish.”

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Cardinal Cupich, true to his modest persona, greeted cordially people who ran up to him during the procession, talked about the beautiful weather, and made his way on foot down the street, up the stair, and through the new and architecturally true doors into the church. On the first Sunday after Easter, the Cardinal talked about resurrection, and it seemed the perfect theme in this church that was scheduled to die but lives on in a new age. The statues, the vestments, all the Catholic rituals looked particularly beautiful to me from my lofty perch.

Although historically Polish, St. Stan’s is now largely Hispanic, but Mass is celebrated in English and Polish as well as Spanish. It is also distinguished by the fact that the doors are open 24 hours a day seven days a week. Drop by and have a look, or learn more on St. Stan’s website. Read more about the anniversary celebration in the Chicago Tribune.
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