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The 30-year wait is over for Polish church in Lombard
Polish congregation to welcome own sanctuary in Lombard Sunday
By Jack Komperda | Daily Herald Staff

Construction crews put the finishing touches to the interior of the Divine Mercy Polish Mission Wednesday morning. J. Peter Sartain, the Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet, is expected to preside at a 1 p.m. Mass Sunday to christen the new sanctuary near Lombard.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

Church leaders spent more than five years appealing to the Polish community for help funding the $8 million church, which will be a spiritual home to Polish immigrants living in the Western suburbs.

 

Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/27/2008 12:22 AM

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So much changes this week for the parishioners at Divine Mercy Polish Mission.

No longer will they need to pack into the gymnasium of Montini Catholic High School for Sunday services.

No longer will the parish council struggle to find a place to conduct the business of the transient church.

The congregation, which began more than 30 years ago to provide a spiritual outlet for Poles migrating to the suburbs, finally will celebrate Mass in its own sanctuary on Sunset Avenue near Lombard.

"It finally feels like I'm at home," said Anna Czynska, one of the founding members of the Divine Mercy congregation.

J. Peter Sartain, Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet, is expected to preside Sunday at the 1 p.m. Mass to consecrate the new church.

It's been no small task to get to this point.

Church leaders struggled more than five years ago to get DuPage County to approve the 700-seat building, tucked away in a quiet tree-topped subdivision just off I-355 and North Avenue.

For years the congregation regularly has appealed to Chicago-area Polish immigrants to help donate to the project through radio and television fundraisers and semi-annual benefit picnics.

Much of the $8 million cost of the facility came from a combination of those fundraisers, bank loans, and financial assistance from the Diocese of Joliet.

In the meantime, the parishioners kept coming. Since the building project began, the Divine Mercy congregation has tripled to 1,900 people.

While some parishioners at Divine Mercy immigrated directly from Poland, many come from Chicago's Polish neighborhoods.

When Czynska first moved to Glen Ellyn four decades ago, she left behind much of the conveniences of her old South Side stomping grounds.

Her new town had only three Polish-born families, one Polish restaurant and zero Polish Masses. Czynska trekked to her old neighborhood with her husband each Sunday for Mass.

But the weekly journey began to wear on Czynska, who, along with a handful of immigrant families, received the bishop's blessing in 1977 to open Divine Mercy.

Little did she know the efforts would take more than 30 years.

"I'm happy we're finally going to open," said the Rev. Adam Bobola, the pastor of the church. "I have a feeling we'll be serving the Polish community here for many years to come."

If the attendance figures at Bobola's services are any indication, he may be right.

Weekend church services at Montini and Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Wood Dale have attracted as many as 3,000 people.

And although crews still were at work Wednesday applying the finishing touches to the interior of the building, Bobola held an Easter Sunday Mass at the new building that drew about 1,400 people.

That's double the 700 seats available in the new church.

"They were all along the walls and in the church loft," Bobola said. "The message of solidarity has a special meaning for us Poles. Working together we can achieve things beyond our imagination.

"Who knew that in five years we'd be praying in our own church?"