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