Though it was not a straightforward path to the priesthood for Polish-born Father Kamil Bober, 27, he believes God himself guided him.
When he was very young, his parents did not force him to go to church, giving him freedom to decide. At age six, he made a conscious commitment to attend weekly Mass in order to serve at the altar of God.
At about the age of 14, he remembers serving at the altar in his home parish of St. Rafal Kalinowski in Elbag, Poland, as the priest was holding Jesus during the consecration. The teenager thought to himself that if he could be like that priest at that moment, he would be the happiest man on earth.
Setting aside his ambition to join the police academy, Father Bober joined the seminary straight out of high school.
He has a devotion to St. John Bosco and wanted to follow in his footsteps as a missionary priest with a religious order. But a priest in the parish convinced him that he should stay and serve his people at home. Two years into his formation at the diocesan seminary, that door was closed to him.
Unsure of what to do next, he took a job as a mapmaker. He thought again of the police academy, but the tug toward the priesthood did not go away.
Door of Opportunity
So he was frank with God. He prayed and told God that he had done everything in his power to become a priest, if it was truly His will, would He please open a door of opportunity.
Then a couple of months later, just two weeks before the police academy exam, he got a telephone call.
“Would you like to go to the seminary,” asked the voice on the other end.
Father Bober was dumfounded; he was not expecting a literal call.
His friend on the other line told him of SS. Cyril and Methodius in Krakow, a seminary that prepared men for priesthood in the U.S.
Father Bober wanted to go on mission, but the U.S. was not what he had in mind. In fact, he resisted against opportunities to learn English earlier in his life thinking it was not important.
So he went back to St. Rafal and asked a priest there for advice. As he was speaking with the priest, he internally thought that perhaps he should pray on the matter. Perhaps he could go on retreat to the Carmelite convent. To his astonishment, he heard the priest say out loud the very thoughts he was experiencing internally.
On retreat with the Carmelites, the mother superior of the house told him that she had received insight on the matters of his prayer. Although she did not know what he came to pray about, she believed that he should say “yes.”
Believing it was a gift from God, he enrolled at SS. Cyril and Methodius in Krakow. He finished his studies at the seminary’s campus in Orchard Lake, Mich.
He then had an opportunity to visit a couple of dioceses from which he chose to serve. When he came to this diocese, he made up his mind.
“I love Brooklyn,” he said. “It’s magic.”
He worked summer assignments at Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen Church, Carroll Gardens, 2014 and 2015, and then Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church, Ridgewood, 2015.
He found the diversity in Brooklyn to be splendid and the people loving and welcoming. He also found a paternal figure in Msgr. Guy Massie, pastor of Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen parish. Though he said he would naturally miss his childhood home and his family, he is happy to be in his new home.
Now he simply hopes to live a life of holiness, spreading it to all those he meets.
Father Bober will celebrate his First Mass of thanksgiving at Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen, June 4, 12 p.m.
He will also celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving at St. Rafal Church in Poland on June 18.