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Former Roman Catholic parish may join Episcopal Church

Former Roman Catholic parish may join Episcopal Church

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church that broke away from the Roman Catholic Church is thinking about coming under the oversight of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. National Catholic Reporter reports:

A breakaway Catholic church that stood up to three Catholic bishops, weathered a decade-long legal fight and embraced doctrine far afield from its Roman roots is now on the verge of becoming a parish in the Episcopal church.

Missouri Episcopal Bishop George Wayne Smith said St. Stanislaus Kostka Church may be “coming into union” with his diocese. Under such an arrangement, Smith said, the historically Polish church would have the flexibility to retain its own rites.

“I know that given St. Stanislaus’ rich heritage, the ability to retain their cherished Polish identity, along with practices and rites are surely an important matter,” Smith wrote in a letter to his clergy. “Alternately of course, St. Stanislaus could also choose any or all the liturgies available to the Episcopal Church.”

Bishop Smith’s letter to the Diocese of Missouri:

This message from Bishop Wayne was distributed to parishes on Aug. 29, to be included (if possible) in bulletins or announcements.

Dear People of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri:

I want to let you all know some exciting news related to our Diocese. The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri and St. Stanislaus Kostka in St. Louis are in discussions that could lead to the church coming into union with the Diocese, should both parties agree that this is in their best interests and in best service to Christ.

I am asking the Standing Committee of the Diocese to pursue this matter with me in order to discern the best course of action. A next step will be an informal gathering that I will set between the Standing Committee and the board of St. Stanislaus. I had the opportunity to meet with the board and the parishioners at St. Stanislaus on August 25 and found it to be a rewarding experience. Developing these relationships will be important as we begin to explore this matter further. Should our Diocese and St. Stanislaus determine that a union is the proper course, I would then make an application to the Presiding Bishop on behalf of St. Stanislaus.

Many steps must be taken together as we pursue the possibilities of a new relationship. I am confident that with open hearts and minds, the proper path will be revealed. The members of the Standing Committee and I welcome your thoughts on this potential union. In the meantime, I invite you to read a more detailed letter that I sent to our clergy on these discussions on the Diocesan website, diocesemo.org.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith

Tenth Bishop of Missouri

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Dave Stump

Additional information for more context from the point of view of the parish in question:

A message a message by Father Marek Bozek in the current (September 2013) parish bulletin of St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Catholic Parish:

"It is my hope that by the time this process is completed, we, St. Stanislaus Parish, will have a caring and wise bishop and that we will be a part of a diocese, building together the Body of Christ. For this reason we have inaugurated a series of meetings with various bishops that identify themselves as Catholic. On the last Sunday of August we had a chance to listen to, and meet with, Bishop Wayne Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. On October 20th we will host, once again, Bishop Peter Paul Brennan from the Ecumenical Diocese of America. Then, on December 15th, we will be joined by Bishop Peter Hickman from the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. At the time this bulletin was sent to print, we could not yet confirm the date of a visit from one of the bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church, but we hope this visit too will happen within the next few months. If necessary, we will invite one or several of those bishops for a return meeting or meetings. I encourage all of you to listen carefully to what each of these bishops have to say, to inquire how we would fit into their diocese or community, what conditions we would need to fulfill, and finally – how would we benefit from such a relationship. Having a bishop and being a part of a diocese is a necessary condition to being Catholic - let us study, discern, and pray that, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we find a safe and holy harbor for our parish community."

At the end of this video of the homily from September 8th, 2013, starting at 14:55, there is a discussion of what it would mean to St. Stanislaus to come into communion with one of the above mentioned institutions.

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Geoffrey McLarney

Oh, it occurs to me too that this development, along with the establishment of an Old Catholic and Roman Rite vicariate in the Diocese of Pennsylvania (in coöperation with +Utrecht), could signal a (more modestly ambitious) mirror to the same kind of pastoral requests that gave rise to the ordinariates.

There are, I believe (pardon any historical errors from a Canuck neighbour!) a few Episcopal congregations that have their roots in the ethnic and property disputes that motivated the PNCC. If memory serves, St Anthony's, Hackensack NJ got its first episcopal oversight from the PNCC, having begun life as an independent Italian National Catholic Church. To say nothing of the Church of the Precious Blood in Wisconsin, which owes its origins to the Vilatte-Chiniquy missions to Belgian-Americans!

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Geoffrey McLarney

Certainly the PNCC might be the more obvious fit, but with the pastor calling for a more radically inclusive Catholicism, Bill may well be right (though I'm loathe to dignify RC pelvic preoccupations with the term "theology" - IME pre-Thames the problem is rather the failure to do theology).

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billydinpvd

From what I gather on the web, the PNCC might be a better fit culturally, but not theologically.

Bill Dilworth

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Matthew Buterbaugh+

I agree with the above comments. I certainly would also welcome them into the Episcopal Church, but I do wonder if the PNCC wouldn't be a better fit. Maybe so, maybe not, depending on what the parish is looking for. There's also something a bit 'turnabout is fair play' about all this. I know Rome has been trying to poach Anglican parishes for a couple of years, but I don't know that I necessarily want us to get into that game. Further, I have to wonder what the legal implications are for TEC if we take in a property that left another communion while trying to fight court battles not to lose properties of our own. Again, I would welcome St. Stanislaus' Parish with open arms, but this raises a lot of questions for me.

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