Polish National Catholic Church has found a home

A Dedication Mass for Resurrection Polish National Catholic Church in Temperance will be May 31.
A Dedication Mass for Resurrection Polish National Catholic Church in Temperance will be May 31.

Nearly 2 1/2 years after holding its first Mass, and after meeting in members' homes and several different rented spaces since then, Resurrection Polish National Catholic Church has found a home.

The parish was founded by about a dozen people whose parishes were closed by the Toledo Catholic Diocese in 2005 as part of the diocese's major realignment of parish boundaries.

On May 31, a Dedication Mass will be held at 11 a.m. at Resurrection PNCC in its new location, 1835 Temperance Rd., Temperance.

The Rev. Jaroslaw Nowak, Resurrection's administrator, will preside at the Mass with two PNCC hierarchs, the Rev. Robert Nemkovich, prime bishop of the Polish National Catholic Church, and the Rev. Jan Dawidziuk, bishop of the western diocese.

The brick building, which has about 5,400 square feet of space, can seat approximately 80 people in the sanctuary and also features a community room where it will hold church gatherings, Polish dinners for the community, and other events.

"There were two things we were looking for in starting up a parish: that it is traditionally Catholic, and that it belonged to us," said Chris Cremean, a founding member of Resurrection whose previous parish, Toledo's St. Jude, was closed by Bishop Leonard Blair.

In addition, PNCC priests are allowed to marry, something Roman Catholic priests were allowed to do until the 12th century.

The members of Resurrection PNCC purchased the new building and grounds in September for about $210,000, Mr. Cremean said. The parish celebrated its first Mass in its new location on Jan. 6 and the upcoming Dedication Mass was scheduled for a time that Bishop Nemkovich and Bishop Dawidziuk could participate.

Resurrection has about 35 members and average weekly attendance of between 20 and 30, according to Mr. Cremean.

"We're small but growing," he said, adding that the members jokingly call themselves "proud heretics" for leaving the Roman Catholic Church.

There are about 25,000 U.S. members of the Polish National Catholic Church, a denomination that was founded by the Rev. Francis Hodur in Scranton, Pa., in 1897 after rejecting Vatican authority.

The Mass at Resurrection is said in English, although parishes can opt for Polish-language Masses if they prefer.

Mr. Cremean said the PNCC Mass is more traditional than at most Roman Catholic churches because the breakaway church does not abide by the Second Vatican Council's recommendations.

"We've kept a lot of the traditional Catholic Mass and two things we really appreciated was the absolution at the beginning of the Mass given by the priest, which allows people to decide on their own conscience whether to come to Communion or not, and, second, that the host is dipped in wine and placed in the [recipient's] mouth instead of the hands," Mr. Cremean said.

In 1993, the Vatican's Council for Promoting Christian Unity stated that PNCC members in the United States and Canada may receive Roman Catholic Communion and other sacraments, and the PNCC issued parallel guidelines in 1998.

The U.S. Roman Catholic Church said in June, 2006, that it seeks to remove all obstacles with the PNCC and achieve "full communion between our two churches."

Father Nowak is pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Hamtramck, Mich., as well as administrator of the Toledo-area parish, where weekly Mass is celebrated at 12:15 p.m. on Sundays.

- David Yonke