Before the experience of
March 3, 1993, I was a person that fully enjoyed my personhood and
vocation to the priesthood. When I was ordained in 1970, I was
standing on the runway awaiting my journey into a new space.
My life and roots began in
the central part of Massachusetts. I was born on October 7, 1944 in
a small New England mill town of Ware, Massachusetts. I then lived
for 17 years in the town of West Warren (Warren) which was next door
to Ware. West Warren was a small mill town of 1,100 people that had
Worcester to the east and Springfield to the west. It had three
industries and three churches (Catholic Polish Church, Catholic
French Church and a Protestant Methodist Church). West Warren had
one traffic light, four family grocery stores, two spas (variety
stores), one drug store, five taverns, and a community center that
had bowling alleys, pool tables and Ping-Pong tables. We had Comins
Pond for swimming and a baseball park for Little League and regular
baseball with large wooden stands (bleachers) for seating. The
Quabog River flowed through the town from which at one time powered
the industries and recreational fishing. The town, in one sense, was
a self-contained little village.
year that I was born, 176,000 troops, under the command of General
Dwight D. Eisenhower, stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6th,
Rome (June), Paris (August), and Brussels (September) were
all liberated. General Douglas MacArthur invades the Central
Philippines. The Japanese Navy was destroyed in the Pacific.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt won an unprecedented fourth
term. The Supreme Court ruled that an American couldn’t be denied
the right to vote because of color. The GI Bill of Rights was signed
A loaf of
bread cost 8 cents. Eggs cost 54 cent a dozen. Milk was 62 cents a
gallon. A gallon of gas cost 21 cents. A stamp cost 3 cents. Coffee
was priced 30 cents a pound. The average income was $2, 260.00. A
new home cost $3,475.00. A new auto sold at $1,000 No cars were sold
between 1943-’46 due to the war. Top price for a ticket to see a
Broadway show was $3.
waves were full of Roy Rogers, Art Linkletter’s “House Party,”
Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny and Walter Winchell. Popular
songs included Sentimental Journey, Would You Like to Swing on a
Star? and Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Rah.
were Tadeus J. Kardas and Caroline C Bish of West Warren,
Massachusetts. I was named a junior at birth. They were first
generation Americans of Polish ancestry. Both sets of my
grandparents emigrated from Poland in the early 1900’s. My mother
and father were married in 1940. They lived West Warren in a duplex
house, next door to my maternal grandparents. This was where I lived
most of my first 17 years.
At the age
of 3, my father was killed in a construction accident while working
at Monsanto Chemical Plant in Ludlow, Massachusetts in 1949. He was
36 year old at the time of this accident.
reared me while working at the local winding mill factory. My
grandmother watched me while my mother worked.
re-married when I was 12 years old. But, she died in 1963 at the age
of 48 of cancer. I was 18 year old.
since the age of 16 doing different jobs. I paid for my total
education of college and theology by working each summer and
part-time work on holidays and vacations by doing different work.
One summer, I worked one summer at Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant
in Detroit, Michigan. Another summer, I worked at my school in
Michigan by doing building painting, custodial work and being a
school driver in the Detroit area. I, actually, worked at odd jobs
until the day of my ordination.
journey began on December 31, 1944 when I was baptized in the Church
of the Holy Cross Polish National Catholic Church, Ware,
Massachusetts. This was the Church that my parents were married in.
I made my First Communion and Confirmation in 1953 on the same day
in this Church. .
did not attend regular weekly Sunday Mass nor participated in any
church life. I began asking questions about religion. This was when
I asked to join the Roman Catholic Church in my hometown because I
wanted to attend Mass and obtain a religious education, which I was
not receiving, belonging to the Polish National Catholic Church. I
did question the difference between one Polish Church and the other
Polish Church. I learned that the Roman Catholic Church had a longer
Tradition with Rome and the Pope as the center of the Church. I
sensed more of a “faith community” by belonging to the Roman
Catholic Polish Parish.
So, I was
received into Roman Catholic Church in 1955 by making my First
Communion at the age of 11.
confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church in 1959. I attended weekly
religious education (C.C.D.) programs until I entered St. Mary’s
High School, Worcester, Here; I had daily classes in religion.
attending St. Mary’s College, Orchard Lake, Michigan, the Second
Vatican Council was called and opened by Pope John XXIII. This
Council was from 1962- 1965.
my college and theology education, it was under the umbrella of the
church renewal of the Second Vatican Council. I was very fortunate
to have professors that offered me the study of Documents of Vatican
II with background lectures and research that presented “Process
This was a
time that when Pope John XXIII called for a General Council of the
Catholic Church to “open the windows.” America was divided on moral
lines and the anti-Vietnam protests”morphed into a generalized
counterculture movement” that challenged a wide range of traditional
values and systems.
I was, also,
fortunate that my moral/ethics professor presented an ecumenical
perspective of religion being a “Religionness Christianity” teaching
of Dietrick Bonhoeffer’s writings. This professor, Fr. Anthony
Kosnik, published Moral Theology articles that were presented under
the direction of “Principle of Totality.” He emphasized by his
teaching and research work the area of human sexuality.
time, I was, again, challenged by Who am I? Why am I here? approach
to my religious journey.
ordained to the Roman Catholic Priesthood on May 23, 1970 at my home
parish of St. Stanislaw, West Warren, Massachusetts for the Diocese
of Worcester by Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan.
I was able
to do part-time studies at Assumption College from 1973-’76. I was
able to develop a holistic insight to religion and spirituality. I,
also, was able to preview many different schools of thought on
religion and one’s spiritual development from a psychological and
counseling orientation. The predominate area of counseling at this
time was Carl Rogers’ Non-Directiveness. I specialized in “Reality
Therapy” of Robert Glasser’s orientation of religion.
1985, the Church promulgated the R.C.I. A. (Rite of Christian
Initiation of Adults). This opened the door for the challenge of
continuos, ongoing conversion that is renewed each Easter day. This
is addressed as a process that is carried out by Mystagogy (Breaking
open the mystery). The issue of action was the predominate
principle in this undertaking. I found this as a culmination of my
religious development that became continuous and making “The
Challenge is now!” statement at the conclusion of my homilies.
educated in the town’s public school system for 9 years beginning in
1950. My mother had a concern about me entering Grade 1 because I
was unable to speak fluent English. My first language at that time
was Polish. It was not an issue because I looked forward to go to
school. I adjusted and passed from Grade 1 to Grade 2 without any
what was named the West School of the Warren Public School System.
We had two grades in one room with a total of four classrooms. We
had one teacher for two grades through grammar school. I had three
women and then a male teacher in the 7th and 8th grade.
attended freshman year of high school at Warren High. I transferred
to St. Mary’s High School, Worcester from which I graduated in 1962.
This was my first experience of religious sister teaching me besides
my First Communion class in religious education.
attended St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake Michigan from 1962-’66.
This college was located outside of Detroit I graduated with a B.A
in Philosophy. The reason for attending and traveling to Michigan
was that the school was a Minor Seminary and I was able to work
summers and vacations to pay my tuition. I was able to study with
students from a number of other locations in our country and some
students from Poland and Eastern Europe.
entered SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary, Orchard Lake, Michigan in
1966 for the School of Theology. It was a Polish-American school of
study. I graduated in Pastoral Theology in 1970 with Ordination.
This education experience was influenced by the renewal of the
Second Vatican Council. I had a diversity of education and pastoral
experiences due to the fact that I was near Detroit, Michigan and
suburban parishes. The faculty of the school was United States, Rome
and Poland educated. There were many different facets of education
presented to me especially the issue of conscience and moral
development from a Second Vatican Council perspective.
War was occurring while I was in college and seminary. I was
fortunate to have the professors and faculty to introduce me to so
many different avenues of a moral and political issue for my
ministry as a priest. It was tough to always implement the
“principle of totality” in any an all undertakings. Basically, this
was to be a process of searching, reading, investigating, discussing
and praying in all of my endeavors.
One of my
professors in our last session of class before ordination reminded
us that we were shown what source material we would need to be
updated in our ministry by suggesting what we shooed read for
periodical and books. Besides this, he suggested we attend workshops
each year. But, what I most recalled from this professor at this
time was that I would be outdated in the priesthood in 5 years and
every 5 years. Continuing education and spiritual renewal was going
to be a constant challenge.
Ordination to the Priesthood in 1970, I attended Assumption College
as a part-time student from 1973-’76 doing graduate studies. I
graduated from this school in 1976 with an MA in Psychology and
Counseling. This education gave me the opportunity to continue all
my undertakings with an outlook of diversity and openness and those
issues were not black and white. I further developed in
understanding that the human being is a very complex human being
from a religious and spiritual nature. I was; also, shown that one
had to specialize in a school of psychology to have a foundation to
understand all the other schools of psychology all of this helped me
more in my ministry as a parish priest.
In 1973, I
was able after ordination to obtain a Massachusetts Teachers
Certificate in Secondary Education in English and Polish.
growing-up in my hometown, I participated in baseball, basketball
and Boy Scouts. Baseball was the main sport I played because we
used to play practically anywhere we would gather by throwing,
pick-up games in an open field or Little League ball. If the weather
was anywhere decent, we played ball. Then, we would listen to the
Red Sox by keeping score and follow then with the daily newspaper
with standings and batting averages with pitchers statistics.
made baseball interesting was that half the town was Red Sox and the
other was N. Y. Yankee fans. What was peculiar was that the location
of the town between Boston and New York created some interesting
debates at the local spas and gathering places. You learned how to
debate. But, you had to know that daily update to participate in
these get encounters
The game of
baseball did teach me that you do your best as an individual. But,
you are part of a team. Each game you do your best to excel. You,
always, hope to win. But, you don’t win every game. There is,
always, a next day, new game.
was played in the school playground and the town community center.
The Boston Celtics was the team I followed. But, there was the N.Y.
Knicks to revile the Celtics in town. But, it was not as intense as
was the more organized activity that I participated in. I attended
weekly meetings, weekend camping trips, activities, and the annual
two-week summer camp. Actually, this was my summer vacation in
addition to go see a Red Sox game. It was this way because I had
summer jobs and my overall situation.
scouting because it was a very good experience for me. I had some
very good adult leaders. The scoutmaster and assistant scoutmaster
were dedicated and good role models. One time, the scoutmaster took
a number of us on a winter sleepover in sub-freezing temperatures.
We were prepared for this experience, which were very cold weather
conditions. We did fine, overall. But, when we tried to make
breakfast in the morning, the eggs we were to have were frozen
solid. I, actually, threw an egg at a shovel leaning on a tree. I
knocked the shovel over. The egg rolled another twenty feet down the
trail. It was solid as a rock. The lesson, I learned was be
conscious of all the details in any undertaking.
interesting lesson, I learned from the elderly Assistant Scoutmaster
was the “Buffalo Walk.” What this was that in hiking, you go up a
hill in a zigzag manner instead of a direct straight line. We used
to laugh in doing on a hike. But, one of life lessons is that many
times a direct approach is not what is needed in solving a
situation. It was through scouting that I achieved the rank of Life
Scout, Senior Patrol Leader, and Assistant Scoutmaster. I was
inducted into the Order of the Arrow that is a special group in
Ordination to the Presbyter (Priesthood) in 1970 had me first
assigned as Associate Pastor to St. George’s Parish, Worcester. I
was put in charge of Religious Education and the parish Youth Group
besides the regular duties of sacramental life and spiritual duties.
I was at this assignment from 1970 to 1976.
I then was
assigned to Holy Family Parish, Leominster, Massachusetts from 1976
to 1981.My duties and pastoral ministry was very much similar to
what I did in my previous assignment. This was when I sought
treatment for alcoholism at Beach Hill Hospital in NH for 19 days. I
entered Beech Hill on October 21, 1977. This is the day that I
established as my sobriety date and have maintained as such.
at Beech Hill was a Paul Barnicle who was very helpful. He
emphasized “One day at a time. Keep it in the 24 hours.” This became
the major part of my journey in sobriety.
1981 to 1984, I was sent to St. Peter’s Parish, Northbridge,
assignment, I was then made a pastor in 1984 of St. Edward’s Parish,
Westminster. I became a Permanent Pastor (PP) due to an
administrative situation. This PP had special canonical
clarification. What was more interesting was that my Bishop did not
want me to be aware of this status. A priest of the Personal Board
in a passing conversation doing my parish hospital calls informed me
As Pastor, I ministered with a Vatican II
spirit of renewal, collaborative and shared minister. I established
a Parish (Pastoral) Council, Finance Committee, Liturgical Committee
and a R.C.I.A. total parish model with Sacraments, Mystagogy
(Breaking open the mystery by activism) and overall spirituality. I
instated Lay Presides. Altar girls and a parish financial
stewardship program were instated. Parish projects that were
undertaken and completed by me were a total church and Chapel
renovations with a new steeple, built a Faith Community Center
(classrooms and meeting rooms), refurbished the parish rectory and
had all the roofs restored. This project totaled a million dollars,
which was 99.6% paid for on my watch in March of 1993.
I, also, was serving a term on the Diocesan
Expansion Fund (DEF). This committee handled loans to parishes that
conducted business meeting once a month at the Worcester Chancery
I enjoyed traveling (Europe and the U.S.A.
especially New England), reading, music, and hiking and daily
culture trips in New England, neighboring states plus Canada I had
the opportunity to travel in 1977 to Europe and visit Belgium,
France, Switzerland and Italy. This was a trip of 3 weeks. Then in
1979, I went to England where I visited London/Westminster and Bath
for 10 days.
In my travels, I was able to visit places that
I had studied and read about. After trips, I would save material and
books that I added to my personal library.
I read from a professional level Theology and
Church History especially the Second Vatican Council period and
previous Church Councils. Specific works that are part of my reading
are Karl Rahner, Hans Kung, BL John XXIII writings and letters,
Edward Schillebex, George Tyrell and the period of Modernism,
Dietrick Bonhoeffer and Thomas Merton. Since the Church has
promulgated the R.C.I.A. in 1985, I have read materials extensively
in this area with emphasis of the writings of the 4th
Century Church Fathers.
Besides reading World, U.S. and Church History,
I enjoy researching materials of World War II, Vietnam and Civil
War. The Battle of Gettysburg has been my latest interest for me to
do extensive reading. .
Also, I enjoy reading the works of Bill Wilson
of Alcoholics Anonymous, military publications, historical novels,
short stories and poetry.
My interests in music are Rock, Folk, Polkas,
Blues and Jazz. Artists and groups I enjoy are the Beatles, Grateful
Dead, Yes, Simon and Garfunkel, Rod Stewart, Nora Jones, Melanie,
Janis Joplin, Tracy Chapman, Ray Charles, BB King, John Lee Hooker,
Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Harry Chapin, Pink Floyd and
Due to all of this, I have looked upon people
that I encounter as a mystery of diversity and openness in God’s
creation. I relate this to my continuous quest in answering: Who am
I? and Why am I here? This, always, has been a part of my