Transfiguration controversy continues: Church members determined to rebuild their congregation


By Judy Kroeger
DAILY COURIER
Friday, July 18, 2003

MOUNT PLEASANT -- Some members of the former Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church, Mount Pleasant, remain determined to rebuild their congregation and their church, even without the support of the Diocese of Greensburg.

More than 30 members of the church, demolished earlier this year because of structural damage, met Thursday at the Polish Falcon's Club to discuss options. Following the destruction of the church, the diocese suppressed the parish, an unacceptable move to many who grew up in the church.

Greensburg attorney Donald Hacker represents the former members, who are re-forming under the name, Polish Church of Mount Pleasant.

Gene Rosky of Mount Pleasant, Polish Church committee chairman, called the meeting to emphasize that the ancestors of Transfiguration members built the original church more than 100 years ago "with nickels and dimes and we can do the same."

He also reported that many of the statues and artifacts from Transfiguration have already been sold for the diocese. "I mean stolen. Apparently, they were a hot commodity. As soon as they left Mount Pleasant, they were off to a new home."

Although the Polish Church has not officially broken away from the Greensburg Diocese, Rosky said, "We don't want anything to do with the diocese.

"These people are going to fight. They're not going to forgive the diocese for what it did to us. You don't ignore 1,500 parishioners."

Joe Shibilsky's ties to Transfiguration go back generations. His grandfather, Boleslew Przybylsky, signed the church property in trust for the parishioners. Both his parents and his wife Dorothy's parents were raised in the church, as was the couple. They were baptized and married at Transfiguration and Dorothy attended the Transfiguration School from third through eighth grade.

"I would like to see the bishop and trustees sued for failure to take care of the church," Joe Shibilsky, of Mount Pleasant, said. "By the admission of their own architect, they have said the church was in bad shape."

Shibilsky supports rebuilding the church, but wants to remain Roman Catholic. "Most people who went to Transfiguration want to remain Roman Catholic, under the pope." And that means under the Greensburg Diocese, which tore down the church and dissolved the parish.

The Shibilskys currently attend different church services and have not joined another church.

Dan Levendusky has chosen to stop supporting the diocese. "If you go to the Roman Catholic Church and put money in the collection, they use that money to defeat us," he said. The Transfiguration parishioner supports becoming part of the independent Polish National Church.

Polish Church organizers have contacted several priests from outside the diocese to serve the budding parish, including members of the Polish National Church, which split from Rome many years ago.

No final decisions came from Thursday's meeting, but a show of hands indicated that most wanted to start collecting money to use for establishing the new church as a nonprofit organization and to continue meeting to discuss progress.

Rosky assured the crowd that the new Polish Church could happen, with time and with money.

"We have to crawl before we can walk. We need money, a place to meet and a priest. I believe the Man upstairs is looking after us," he said.

Rosky encouraged anyone interested in resurrecting Transfiguration in a new form to work as their ancestors did, by raising money and by taking charge of their destiny as a parish. "We owe it to ourselves and our ancestors to pick up the pieces and move forward."

He continued, "The Polish people are a determined people. There will be a third Catholic church in Mount Pleasant."

Donations may be sent to Polish Church of Mount Pleasant, P.O. Box 826, Mount Pleasant, Pa. 15666. Three individuals volunteered to go to the post office together and collect donations and deposit the money in the bank, so that no transactions remain hidden.

To learn more about the independent Polish National Church, anyone interested in attending Mass at the Polish National Church of McKeesport and talking to its priest after the 9 a.m. service should meet at Diamond Auto Parts at 8 a.m. Sunday for a carpool.

Judy Kroeger can be reached at jkroeger@tribweb.com or (724) 626-3538.


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