Churches Reopen in Berkshire County

Two Berkshire County churches closed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield are reopening – one just in time for Easter.

St. Stanislaus Kostka in Adams stopped holding services three years ago, but protesters took turns sitting inside the pews 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, hoping it would reopen. Robin Loughman is a lifelong member of the congregation. She wanted to make sure the church’s Catholic school wouldn’t close, and says it made no financial sense to keep the local sister church open instead. But the primary reason she wanted the church to remain in use was to preserve the art inside.

“It’s the stained glass windows. There’s, stuff is painted on practically every survace. There’s pictures all over the ceiling. We have some old wood carvings, actual wood statues.”

St. Stanislaus reopened on Palm Sunday as a chapel, and more than 700 people attended Mass. That followed a Vatican decision to keep the church in religious use. The Diocese of Springfield has eliminated 69 parishes in Western Massachusetts since 2000. That’s due to financial trouble, declining attendance and a shortage of priests. But in the next month or two another church, North American Martyr’s of Lanesboro, will reopen and host weekend Mass. Mark Dupont is spokesman for the Springfield diocese.

“The Vatican said the diocese acted appropriately in closing North American Martyr’s Parish, however, the Vatican has indicated that the church building, North American Martyr’s Church, should be retained in some manner for some sacramental use.”

A parish is an administrative district of a Catholic community, and a church is one part of that. These two churches are reopening even though their larger parish units have merged with others locally.