Archdiocese adds Polish ministers to extend outreach to immigrants
BY ERIN GALLAGHER Correspondent May 12, 2014 7:38PM
The Archdiocese of Chicago commissioned 28 new lay ministers into the Polish Immigrant-to-Immigrant Minstry on Sunday at SS. Cyril and Methodius Church in Lemont. | Erin Gallagher~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 14, 2014 6:17AM
To help Polish immigrants, the Archdiocese of Chicago on Sunday commissioned 28 new lay ministers in a special Mass at SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Lemont.
The lay ministers will expand the church’s Polish Immigrant-to-Immigrant Ministry. The goal is to help people stay connected to the Catholic Church and their Polish roots while adjusting to life in American culture, according to Mark Wolski, ministry liaison for the archdiocese.
“We have a stronger voice when we are organized,” Wolski said.
The Polish Immigrant-to-Immigrant Ministry began in 2011, and mirrors the Hispanic Immigrant-to-Immigrant Ministry, which started in 2008.
Wolski, an immigrant from Poland, said that serving the needs of the Polish is different than serving other immigrant communities, such as Latinos. The Polish are more individualistic, whereas the Latinos tend to be more communal, he said. These subtle differences make outreach to these groups of people different as well. The Polish lay ministers need to spend more time earning the trust of their community.
“It is a lot of effort, and it brings some fruit and some efforts in time,” said Wolski, who started learning English at 34.
U.S. immigration assistance is a large component of the services the ministry offers but it’s not everything. Spiritual formation, English language lessons and health insurance navigation also are among the services the ministry provides.
There are currently 12 Polish parishes with more than 50 active leaders, according to a press release from the archdiocese. However, there are about 30 parishes that are predominantly Polish, Wolski said.
The special Mass was celebrated by the Most Rev. Andrew Wypych, auxiliary bishop of Chicago. The Rev. Stanislaw Kuca, pastor emeritus of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Orland Hills, gave the homily.