“A vocation is truly a mystery, one of the truths we cannot fully understand.”
On the day of my First Holy Communion, May 14, 1954, Father Franciszek Piszczor, pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Parish (with seven missions at Katy Wroclawskie), in the Diocese of Wroclaw, Poland, asked me to become an altar server. Just 10 days earlier, I had experienced great grief when my dear brother Stanislaw, who was two years younger than I, alongside three other boys, died in mine explosion.
A vocation is truly a mystery, one of the truths we cannot fully understand. Why does God want to be so dependent upon us to save other souls? Why does He choose this one and not that one?
The Church’s liturgical year involved me very much as an altar boy. Besides serving at Mass on Sundays, I also was committed to serve once a week at the daily 6:15 a.m. Mass. Also, once a year the Diocese of Wroclaw invited all altar boys from every parish and the cathedral for Mass, then to visit High Seminary, and have dinner with Cardinal Boleslaw Kominek.
One day in my fifth-grade catechism class, I asked Fr. Franciszek some questions. He said to me, “You are going to be a priest.”
In 1959, a parish mission was held by the Redemptorist Fathers. They were great preachers. I spoke to one. He gave me the address to the minor seminary. I wrote them a letter. They welcomed me, but when I shared this news with my parents, they disapproved, saying, ”You are too young yet to make a commitment to religious life for good.”
So, along the way, the Polish Boy Scout movement helped me to learn practical skills.
Propaganda against the Catholic faith was hard to take. My dear mother told me that there were forces, even such that I should not have been born.
I took this to heart. If God wanted me to be in this world, then I would have to do something for God. Later, while attending technical high school, I continued to serve Mass, now as senior altar boy.
After graduation, Msgr. Jozef Zielinski said to me, ”Go to work to see if your vocation to the priesthood is real.”
In 1966 Poland celebrated the millennium of Christianity. I entered High Seminary at Wroclaw. On May 27, 1972, I was ordained alongside my 29 classmates. As a priest, I served for seven years in the Diocese of Wroclaw, 11 years in Canada and have been in Utah 29 years now, since 1989.
I see today that it is important to pray for vocations and to see to the spiritual needs of Catholics, who very often say, “Thank you, Father.”
Fr. Jan Bednarz is pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish in Taylorsville.