Where's the hope for St. Stanislaus, inner-city...


March 27, 2000

Where's the hope for St. Stanislaus, inner-city parishes?

The closing of St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Fells Point raises a number of questions concerning the fiscal well-being of downtown churches.

St. Stanislaus is one of the few remaining traditional parishes in Baltimore. Sponsored literally by the nickels and dimes of poor Polish immigrants, it stands as a tribute to the greater glory of God.

Those people spent their life earnings to build a temple suitable for their savior. They did not build a meeting room, community center or interfaith worship space, as is so trendy in modern times.

Thus St. Stanislaus is a lasting example of appropriate Catholic architecture.

A few years ago, the archdiocese came to congregations such as St. Stanislaus with a plea for funds to protect our historic Catholic Churches. People were more than generous with this "Heritage of Hope."

However, since the end of this campaign, two churches (St. Bernard and now St. Stanislaus) have been closed, and a number of city parishes face building repairs which they cannot afford.

Where is the "Heritage of Hope?" No one knows. No one even remembers it.

The aged descendants of the very immigrants who gave their meager salaries to build St. Stanislaus were told to offer large parts of their fixed incomes if they wanted to keep their church. But obviously, something went wrong.

It seems to me the "Heritage of Hope" has nothing to do with heritage and that there is little hope for inner-city parishes.

G. Stewart Seiple


I sympathize with the parishioners of St. Stanislaus over the closing of their parish. Like many other churchgoers, I understand their concern for the loss of what they consider a dear friend and an intimate part of their life.

If my parish were to be closed I would feel the same way.

But realities must be considered. St. Stanislaus has a large complex whose upkeep must be tremendously expensive. The weekly offering by 250 to 300 people would hardly meet this expense, and a few fund-raisers a year won't provide enough to maintain such old buildings.

Still, if Catholics would support their parishes financially at all times perhaps such closings would not be necessary.

But Catholics in general do not contribute to their parishes as generously as many of our Christian, Jewish and Islamic brothers and sisters do.

It seems that only when a crisis arrives do Catholics complain, and think that the archdiocese needs to come to their aid.

I hope parishioners of St. Stanislaus pray that God will help them through this ordeal and remember that other parishes in the vicinity that gladly accept you.

They may not be the same, but they are places where you can worship and feel comfortable in God's presence.

Alfred E. Bittner


Citizens' cynicism prompts concern for jury system

I was jolted by reading of Barbara Frye's experience of serving on a jury in Baltimore ("I've lost my faith in jury system," March 10) because her column was so true to my jury service on a drug case not long ago.

For many of the same reasons Ms. Frye expressed, including the indifference of most of the other jurors and their cynicism toward the detectives' testimony, I came away from the experience feeling very unsettled and depressed.

All the incriminating evidence was ignored. I felt overpowered and caved, just as Ms. Frye described so well.

So another drug dealer went back to his corner.

I worry about the jury system. It has a commendable purpose, but the seriousness of jury service has not been impressed on those chosen to serve.

Jean Goldstein


Charity should begin much closer to home

The people of Mozambique have my sympathy, but it amazes me that we will help people in foreign countries, yet do so little to help relieve suffering at home.

A radiothon, sponsored by Radio One, was held March 16 to raise money for Mozambique's flood victims.

As I listened to the "Larry Young Morning Show" with Mr. Young asking for pledges, I thought about the 3,300 Baltimore City children who are victims of lead paint poisoning; I thought about the rising cost of fuel and the families who have to choose between paying the mortgage or buying fuel; and I thought about the thousands of homeless people living on the streets of Baltimore, who only receive help during the holidays.

When Radio One sponsors a radiothon for these victims, I will be the first to call in a pledge.

Natalie Jones


The dying deserve a share of state's tobacco settlement

Under the governor's proposal, funds from the tobacco settlement are being targeted towards cancer research and smoking cessation programs. However laudable these goals, they overlook the ultimate victims of tobacco -- those dying of tobacco- related diseases.

These are the patients that hospice programs care for, day in and day out. Almost 80 percent of hospice patients die of illnesses associated with tobacco use including cancer, heart and lung disease.

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