By Lorraine Turchansky
Chief Communications Officer
Like most young people, Roger Niedzielski was looking for approval when he was about to make a life-changing decision. He found that in spades when he announced at a family gathering eight years ago that he planned to become a priest.
The news was greeted with wide smiles, hugs, kisses, and tears of joy, recalls Tomasz Owczarek, Roger’s brother-in-law. But surprise? Not at all.
“He was always a quiet person, he liked to read and to really get into the book. Not quite like his peers at school – you know, he was never crazy,” Owczarek says. “He was always an academic, and really, he started talking about priesthood when he was introduced to the Church by his parents.”
The journey to priesthood culminated in Niedzielski’s ordination on June 27 at St. Joseph’s Basilica, witnessed by his parents, Antoni and Janina, other family members, and proud members of Edmonton’s Polish community.
Owczarek, who proclaimed the first reading at the Mass, has been close to Niedzielski for many years, and the two have spent a lot of time talking.
“We’ve had some great conversations over the years,” he says. “This is a guy you can actually lose yourself in talking to – I believe he will be a very good priest.”
The ordination also came as an answer to many years of prayers for a young priest to emerge from the Polish community, Owczarek says.
In his homily at the Mass of Ordination, Archbishop Richard Smith welcomed Niedzielski with words of encouragement.
“The Lord accepts us, as he accepted Peter, where we are, and works in and through our weakness to transform us, strengthen us, and make us true disciples,” he said. “All he asks is that we love him as we can and leave the rest up to him.”
The Archbishop also cautioned that the life of a priest is not without its challenges.
“As has always been the case, the words he is charged to speak and the divine love he is called to announce are not always met with unbridled enthusiasm. You are well aware of this, Roger.
“So, as you proceed now to ordination, do as Jeremiah once did long ago: place your trust always in the promise of the Lord to be with you, to carry you, and to bring your priestly ministry to fulfillment in accord with his merciful grace and saving purpose.”
Father Roger begins his first posting as Associate Pastor at St. Joseph’s Basilica in August.
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