PORTLAND — Polish Catholics will renew a special tradition together at St. Louis Church on 279 Danforth Street in Portland with a traditional oplatek gathering, caroling, adoration, and a Mass on Dec. 26, the first Sunday of Christmas. All are welcome to attend any part of the gathering.

In many Polish homes throughout the world, a beloved family tradition is the breaking of the oplatek at Christmas. Oplatek is a thin wafer made from flour and water that is often in a rectangular shape and embossed with Christmas-related images varying from the nativity scene to the Star of Bethlehem. Oplatek is meant to remind families of the eucharistic bread at Mass and makes a further connection between Christmas and the gift of the Eucharist, the presence of God among us.

The festivities will begin with Mass in Polish at 4 p.m., celebrated by Fr. Robert Będziński. Mass will be followed by a traditional opłatek gathering and caroling in Polish. Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and confession will be offered starting at 3:30 p.m.

St. Louis Church is the only Polish Catholic Church in the Diocese of Portland. At the time it was established (1915), there were about 250 Polish families living in the area. The red brick church, which still stands today, opened in 1924. While the Polish immigrants who built St. Louis Church were those who arrived during the late nineteenth century or during World War I, there would be subsequent waves of immigration during World War II and again in the 1980s, during the time of the Solidarity Labor Movement and the political unrest that eventually led to the fall of Communism. Although St. Louis is now home to parishioners from several different cultures, many of the religious and cultural traditions that were brought from Poland are still embraced there, including the Blessing of the Baskets, creating Pisanki (colorful Easter eggs), and an outdoor procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi, among others. 

For more information, contact the parish at 207-773-7746.