Anyone who was at the Gala or Picnic, please tell those of us who were not able to be there about the events. Thank you.
A TRUE FATHER
On Trinity Sunday our parish was visted by a priest from Poland. A story from his homily is retold here as we approach the day when we honor our fathers.
The priest in a small town in Poland was informed that the Nazis had come to the municipality and taken his personal file. He was urged to flee, since this action by the Nazis signaled that he would soon be taken away and killed. The priest responded to the idea of fleeing by saying that he was the father of the parish; his parishoners were his family. Then he asked, “What kind of a father would flee from his family when danger was near?” He pointed out that if he left someone else would be taken in his place. His place was with his family. “How can I leave my people without the sacraments, without the Eucharist, without Confession, without Baptism and Marriage celebrations? If I ran away from my parish I would betray God’s will.”
A few days later, the Nazis did come for the priest. He was put in a car and as he drove away he passed by the members of his newphew’s family who were standing outside their home. The last act of the priest before the car drove into the forest was a blessing for the family. Once in the forest, the priest was handed a shovel with which he began to dig his grave. Two other priests had also been brought to the forest along with several laymen. The priests heard the laymen’s confessions and then each other’s confession. When the mass grave was sufficiently dug, they were shot and buried.
Back in the town, a young grandnephew of the blessed family saw that the Nazis were going into the rectory. Curious, he went to the fence that surrounded the rectory and looked through a hole to watch. A Nazi officer noticed him, came over to the fence and said, “I am going to teach you a lesson.” He went into the rectory and came out with the stole of the priest. He cut the stole into pieces, threw them on the ground and began to stomp on them. Then he screamed, “There will never be another priest in this town.”
Twenty years later, the first Mass of a young priest was celebrated in that town. The priest was the same little boy who had looked through the hole in the rectory fence. At the end of the Mass, a woman from the back of the church began walking toward the altar. She was carrying a package. She walked up to the priest and handed it to him. He opened it up and took out a long piece of cloth. The woman gift-giver had also seen what the Nazi officer had done the day of the priest’s martyrdom. Bravely, she later retrieved the pieces of the stole. The pieces were carefully washed and given to the nuns of a monastery who stitched the pieces back together. She had just presented the stole, the symbol of a priest’s sacramental power, to the newly ordained who would proudly wear the relic of the town’s martyred priest.
These events took place in the 1943. Less than 70 years later, there have been 50 young men and women from that little Polish village who have become priests or nuns. The priest who told this story, Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, is a priest from the same diocese as this little town.
[The town is Bielsk Podlaski. The martyred priest is Father Antoni Beszta-Borowski. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999.