By Jodi Magallanes
SOUTH BEND — The west side South Bend church of St. Adalbert marked the 100th anniversary of its founding Sunday with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades.
Several priests from the Congregation of Holy Cross concelebrated the anniversary Mass with Bishop Rhoades including Holy Cross Father Peter Pacini, pastor of the church. The priests and worshipers were also joined by two Felician Franciscan Sisters who minister in the church and by members of their community.
Holy Cross priests have administered the parish and provided it with pastoral care since 2003, shortly after the faith community underwent a consequential change in identity.
St. Adalbert Parish was organized in 1910, following in the mission of St. Hedwig, St. Casimir and St. Stanislaus. It became the fourth parish established on South Bend’s west side by immigrants from Poland. The second priest who was assigned to the flock, Father John Osadnik, succeeded in completing a church building in 1926.
For many years the faithful of St. Adalbert’s worshipped in the Polish Catholic tradition. Then during the 1990s, large numbers of emigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries took up residence in the neighborhoods surrounding nearby St. Stephen Parish and that of St. Adalbert. When St. Stephen’s was ordered closed in 2002, its parishioners were directed either to the parish of St. Adalbert or St. Casimir.
The two cultures are still learning to coexist at St. Adalbert, Father Pacini said. The faithful now worship under the gazes of both Our Lady of Czestochowa and Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Masses regularly incorporate anywhere from one to four languages. Sundays consist of English, Spanish, Polish and Latin.
That diversity is representative of the diversity of the universal Catholic Church, the Bishop Rhoades noted, calling it “a sign and witness” that the Church is “one body in Christ, united in faith and love.”
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke of the courage and missionary calling of the parish’s namesake, who brought the Word of God to Eastern Europe in the 900s.
“Today, you are called to be an evangelizing community here in South Bend, to reach out to the people of your neighborhood with the saving love of Jesus Christ, especially those who have no church and those Catholics who no longer practice their faith. I encourage you to be active in evangelization, following the example of St. Adalbert. Invite people to come to your parish and school, to encounter the Lord Jesus in your community of faith,” he said.
Sylvia Olga Castellon was one of the former parishioners of St. Stephen who was invited to assimilate into St. Adalbert’s in 2002. She came with an open mind, she said. Still, she found it a bit difficult at first because St. Stephen’s had felt like home. Now she appreciates her new parish.
“I guess because it was in Spanish, we adjusted. There were people who told me they welcomed me, and Christ Renews His Parish program (CRHP) helped too. We did that here and it made a difference for me,” Castellon said.
Bishop Rhoades asked for God’s blessing on all the members of the parish. In 16 years, he added, he hoped to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the church building as well.
Before the final blessing he exhorted worshippers to prayerfully consider vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The presence of Holy Cross priests and Felician sisters inspired him to plant the idea, he said, among the many young families who were present.
“I hope in my heart God is calling some of you to service in the diocese or Holy Cross,” he said. The bishop joked that he would even be willing to share with the Congregation of Holy Cross any bounty of potential priests, so that both Holy Cross and the diocese could enjoy fortified numbers.
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