Whiting residents uneager to see Catholic churches consolidated

Abbey Dybel, Staff Reporter

On Sunday, January 14th, Catholic churches in Whiting were informed that starting Ash Wednesday of this year, all English masses will be moved to St. John the Baptist, essentially closing the other churches to all English Sunday masses.

In Whiting, there are currently four Catholic churches: St. John the Baptist, St. Adalbert, Sacred Heart, and Immaculate Conception. Sacred Heart will continue to have a Spanish mass and St. Adalbert will continue to have a Polish mass.

Although these churches are not actually closing, they might as well be. Since I.C. does not have any masses other than English, it will become a chapel, meaning that baptisms, weddings, and funerals can be done there if so desired. St. Adalbert and Sacred Heart will also be considered chapels anytime they do not have their foreign language mass. According to the letter, the reason for this closing is due to the lack of attendance at masses and lack of priests. In the city of Whiting, the population is 4,397(2012). One might argue that this little city on the lake is too small to have four Catholic churches.  To a non-Whiting native, this change might not seem a big deal; however, let me enlighten you with a small history lesson first. Nearly all of these churches have been around for over a hundred years, the oldest being Sacred Heart which was established in 1889. Another interesting fact is that when all these churches were built, a certain culture or ethnicity was drawn to that church. St. Adalbert served Polish families, Sacred Heart served Irish families, IC and St. John both served Slovak families. With there currently being 1,395 Catholic families in the Whiting area, a fourth of the town is Catholic. The pride that the people have for their churches is astonishing. Often at these masses, there are luncheons and Christmas breakfasts to gather the community. When my family started to attend St. Adalbert, we were greeted with warm smiles and hellos. Now although you do not have to be a certain background to go to one of these masses, many of these church attendees went to the grade school of that church before that closed down too, with the exception of St. John. To ask these people to leave their church that they have been going to all their life is a tough situation.

Bishop Dale Melczek stated that “this Mass adjustment will be difficult for some because of the many emotions associated with expressing our faith and around the liturgical celebrations in our churches”.  My only solution for this change is to at least open St. Adalbert because it is air conditioned, and as we all know Northwest Indiana can get awfully warm in the summer. Only time will tell how the Whiting-Robertsdale community will react to the change ahead.