by Father Maciej Pawlowski, S.M.
I remember that day when I came to the Diocese of Brooklyn as a transitional deacon. Ordained only few months after the death of beloved Pope John Paul II, I was deeply grateful to God that my priestly vocation took root with the blessing of John Paul the Great. The ways of God are mysterious, and I had no idea what was in store for me.
I came to a parish in Crown Heights with the Caribbean faithful who made up the parish of St. Francis-St. Blaise. I was known as the “Polish white dude,” but soon I was one of the people. The Holy Mass was a celebration of grace, as the Gospel choir lifted the voices to Heaven with hymns I have never heard before and which now are my favorite.
“Blessed assurance – Jesus is mine,” became my motto, and through the help of the people of the Brooklyn Diocese, I was able to prepare for my priestly ordination. What a glorious day it was! May 13, 2006 – the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. As a Marist priest, I had the opportunity to go to many places as newly-ordained. After the completion of my assignment in Brooklyn as a deacon, my first priestly assignment took me to Northern Maine. I stayed there for a year and then moved to Detroit. After that, I came back to Brooklyn as a priest.
I still remember the words of Blessed John Paul II who said of the priesthood: “His calling is a declaration of love. The priest’s response is commitment, friendship and love manifested in the gift of his own life as a definitive and as a permanent sharing in his mission and in his consecration.”
These words not only inspired me to follow God’s call, but they also encouraged me as well. Growing up in Communist Poland was difficult, and my faith in Christ and His Holy Church gave me courage to stand up for what is right. Even though I felt unworthy of such a great honor, as I prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet daily, I grew closer to Christ the Priest. I felt that he was calling me personally and that he wanted my heart.
And so one day, when I struggled to make a decision between the calling to the priesthood or married life, once more I encountered Blessed John Paul II who blessed me and asked me to go into the deep and to trust Jesus.
The late Pope reminds us: “The world looks to the priest, because it looks to Jesus! No one can see Christ; but everyone sees the priest, and through him they wish to catch a glimpse of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur and dignity of the priest!”
Yes, Holy Father. I am truly blessed to be a priest!