Pastors of The Polish Catholic Community in Wolverhampton
Father Narcyz Turulski (1948-1949)
Father Narcyz Turulski was originally a priest from the Diocese of Chełm in Poland and was the first permanent pastor for poles in Wolverhampton. Born on 31st October 1907 in Lękartach near the new town of Lubawski, Fr Narcyz was ordained on 20th December 1930. In 1941 he was arrested by the NKVD and was deported to a Gulag camp, where he worked in very difficult conditions. After his release in 1942, he immediately joined the Polish Army in Russia and was made chaplain of the 6th Infantry Division. Later, in Iraq, he was assigned to the 2nd Artillery Corps of General Anders. He took an active part in the Italian campaign at Monte Cassino in 1944 and he received the cross of Valour. As the chaplain at the Army training centre he received the Silver Cross of merit with swords, and in 1945 he was promoted to the senior chaplain. Fr Narcyz eventually arrived in England in 1945 with the Polish Army and was later demobilized. Through that hard experience, he was well prepared for his pioneering pastoral work in Wolverhampton.
His primary task was to organise the new structures of the parish community, to which he gave great dedication. Regular masses were celebrated in Polish at the English church of St. Peter and Paul’s, as were the sacraments celebrated. The first Parish Committee was formed.
Father Narcyz Turulski, had a major role in the activities of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales. As a dogmatist, he cared about the faith of young people and children. He wrote and illustrated “the Catechism of the Catholic Church for Polish children “. Pope Paul VI, in recognition of his merits, appointed Father Narcyz as his Chamberlain on February 13, 1964. Sadly, he died suddenly, on January 8, 1965 at the age of 57 years.
Father Feliks Kamiński (1949-1958)
Father Felix Kamiński was a priest from the Diocese of Chełm in Poland. He was born in 1912 and was ordained in 1935 in Pelplin. Before the war, he was a vicar in Sierakowice in Kartuzy and was appointed to the reserves as a chaplain of the Coastal Defence Group. At the outbreak of war in 1939 he was taken prisoner by the German forces. Imprisoned by the Gestapo “Victoria Schule”, Gdansk, he was taken to concentration camps such as Stutthof, Sachsenhausen and Dachau, where he was subjected to numerous medical experiments involving typhoid and other diseases. While imprisoned in Dachau, Father Kaminski reported voluntarily to the typhoid blocks where he nursed fellow prisoners, heard confessions and comforted the dying. He was a prisoner in Dachau, until the liberation of the camp in 1945.
He arrived in England in 1945. From 1949, for almost ten years, he was pastor of the Polish parish in Wolverhampton for the Polish people who had settled here. However, the parish did not have its own church and had to rely on the generous hospitality of the English parish of St. Peter and Paul, and from 1955, the hospitality of the church of St. Patrick’s, where more extensive use was made of the parish hall and its facilities there for the Polish community.
In the 1970s, he helped the priest in the Polish parish of Stafford and often visited our Church in Wolverhampton. In 1981, he wrote a chapter of the book “Miracle Survivors,” about his experiences in German concentration camps during the war. He died in 1989 in Penley, and in accordance with his wishes, is buried in Wolverhampton (Bushbury cemetery).
Father Bolesław Dzudzewicz (1958-1966)
Father Bolesław Dzudzewicz was born in 1908, and was ordained in 1935. He was the prefect of schools in Drohiczyn on the Bug River. He was arrested by the NKVD in 1939 and spent a couple of years in Gulags. In 1941, Stalin granted amnesty to the Poles and Father Dzudzewicz was allowed to join the Polish Army being formed by General Anders. After the war, he moved to England in 1945 and zealously carried out his ministry among the Poles. Father Bolesław Dzudzewicz was the first permanent pastor in Swindon until 1952, and, in 1958, he was appointed the parish priest in Wolverhampton.
In 1965, at the request of Father Dzudzewicz, a committee was formed to raise funds for the acquisition and construction of our own Polish church and community centre in Wolverhampton as well as a presbytery for the priest.
In 1966, Father Dzudzewicz was transferred to Bristol’s Polish community as their parish priest.
Father Dzudzewicz, was awarded the gold cross of merit by the then Government of Poland in exile for his work on behalf of the Polish community.
Father Zygmunt Jagielnicki (1966-1969)
Father Zygmunt was born on 8th November 1911, in Monastyrsk. In 1934 he joined the order of St. John Francis and on 6th October 6, 1935, he made his religious vows, taking the name of “Przemysƚaw”; in 1939, he was ordained in Lwow. Shortly after the Russian invasion in 1939 he was arrested by the Russians and was sentenced to prison. From June 1941 onwards he was sent to Siblag (Novosibirsk). In 1942 he was granted an amnesty as a Polish citizen and released from the camp. He became a military chaplain in the Anders Army, as well as taking care of released Polish civilians in Pietropawłowsk in Kazakhstan. After the evacuation of the army to Iran, Father Zygmunt continued with the army along the entire route to the Middle East. In 1943, he was the chaplain for refugees in Isfahan. He eventually became a chaplain in Santa Rosa in Mexico. He was one of the main organisers of the education facilities in the Mexican camp, and from September 1943 to February 1944, he was the head teacher of middle school courses and the commander of the scout troop. After leaving Mexico, for a time he served in North Africa and eventually, he settled in the United Kingdom.
In 1966, he was appointed the parish priest in Wolverhampton. He helped to raise funds for the parish church and community centre. In March 1969, “Epiphany Church Hall” at Stafford Road, Oxley, Wolverhampton was purchased for £12,000 and a further £4,000 was raised to buy the nearby presbytery.
From 1970 onwards, he served in a Polish parish in London.
Father Prałat Witold Jarecki (1969-1978)
Father Witold was born on 16th June 1922 in Grodno, Poland. His father, Stanisław, was the last governor of the Stanisławów Voivodeship (an administrative district) before World War II. His father was taken prisoner by the German forces and, after the war, was unjustly condemned to prison by the Polish authorities where he died.
Father Witold attended the college ‘Prince Józef Poniatowski’ in Warsaw. He was sent to Hungary by his father, where he graduated in a Polish school in Balaton-Zamardi in May 1940. He then fled to Palestine where he joined the Polish Army and was assigned to the Independent Carpathian rifle Brigade. He took part in the defence of Tobruk from August to December 1941 and then in actions in Gazala and Bardia (Western Desert Campaign) serving in the Carpathian Light Artillery regiment as a gunner. He then graduated from the school of Artillery Cadet Reserve in El Almeria in Egypt and Beit Jirja in Palestine.
Father Witold was assigned to the 3rd Carpathian light artillery regiment who fought in the Italian campaign under the ranks of the 3 Carpathian rifle Division of the 2nd Corps, taking part in the battles of Monte Cassino, Ancona, the Gothic Line and the Apennines. He progressed through the ranks of the army and was eventually made a lieutenant. From January 1945 to demobilization he served in the No.16 Light Artillery regiment, 2nd Warsaw Armoured Division.
After arriving in England and his subsequent release from the ranks of the Polish Army, Father Witold studied at the Polish University College (PUC) becoming a chemist and an engineer working in Glasgow at a company called Babcock and Wilcox.
However, after two years he felt a calling from God. He joined the Polish Seminary in Paris and then studied theology at the Catholic Institute, earning a bachelor’s degree. On 29th June 1960, Deacon Witold Jarecki at the age of 38 years, was ordained by the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Martin at Notre Dame Cathedral. Until 1966, Father Witold studied chemistry and physics in the Polish Spiritual Seminary in Paris. From August 1966 to July 1969 he was Secretary of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales, and from December 1966 also became an Assistant to the Church of the Polish Institute of Catholic action in the UK. From 1969, for ten years, he was pastor of the Polish parish in Wolverhampton. Father Witold took an active part in building and financing of a new church and community centre for the Poles living in Wolverhampton. The blessing and opening of the new church (dedicated to the Holy Trinity) and Polish Catholic Centre (dedicated to St. Maximilian Kolbe) on the Stafford Road, Wolverhampton took place on 22nd August 1971. The blessing was made by Archbishop Rubin in the presence of Bishop Cleary, the Mayor of Wolverhampton, invited guests and of course, the local Polish congregation
From 1st July 1979 Father Witold was moved to the parish of St. Andrzej Bobola in London. He was also the Chief Chaplain of the Association of Polish Veterans. Father Witold selflessly led the parish for thirteen year despite his failing health. He developed the church as a spiritual sanctuary for the Polish armed forces veterans with a growing number of souvenir plates and the establishment of new stained glass windows. He considerably expanded the Columbarium which is a popular place of eternal rest for many famous Poles. Due to ill health, in the autumn of 1992 he retired whilst remaining in the parish until 1995 when he returned to Warsaw. He died on 7th June 1998, serving 38 years in the priesthood and was buried in the Powązkowski cemetery in Warsaw.
Father Witold Jarecki was awarded the Medal of the Army, the Memorial Cross of Monte Cassino and the British stars and war medals.
Ks. Józef Matysik (1978-1993)
Father Józef was born 19th March 1939 in Kochłowice to a family of a railway official. After completing primary school in his native village, he joined the minor seminary in Katowice, Poland, where in 1957 he passed his school exams. After graduation, he was admitted to the Upper Silesian Seminary in Krakow. Father Józef was ordained by Bishop Herbert Bednorz on 23rd June 1963 in Katowice’s Cathedral of Christ the King.
After his ordination to the priesthood, he worked as vicar in the following parishes: Blessed Virgin Mary the Queen of the Polish Crown in Czechowice-Dziedzice (1963-1967; now the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec), St. Peter and Paul in Świętochłowice (1967-1972), Church of the Transfiguration in Katowice (1972-1973), St. Anthony of Padua in Dąbrówka Mała (1973-1975), St. Barbara in Chorzów (1975-1977). In Świętochłowice, Dąbrówka Mała and Chorzów, he was additionally entrusted with academic pastoral work.
Father Józef studied (in absentia) at the Academy of Catholic Theology in Warsaw, where in June 1977 he earned a master’s degree in theology. In July 1977, he moved to pastoral work in the Polish Catholic Mission in the United Kingdom. In August 1977 he was Assistant of the Polish parish of St. Andrzej Bobola in Shepherds Bush in London. In 1978, he was appointed parish priest in Wolverhampton (1978-1993). In November 1981 he selected to be the Dean of the Polish Deanery in the Midlands for which he served three terms. In November 1986, he was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Chaplain of his Holiness. In September 1993 he was transferred to the Polish parish in Leeds until his retirement in 2004.
In 1997 Father Józef conducted a major renovation of the Church and Polish Catholic Centre in Leeds. In 1999 he erected on the church grounds, a monument to celebrate 2,000 years of Christianity, namely a bell Tower with a bell dedicated to The Holy Father John Paul II. In 2003, he edited a parish Hymn book with prayers which was released in Katowice. On 10 September 2004, he retired. He remained in Leeds for two years following his retirement. In June 2006 he returned to Poland and settled in a family house in Kochłowice and still helps in the pastoral care of the parish there.
Father Leon Kołodziejski (1993-2001)
Father Leon was born on 29th March 1936, in Palczyn in the parish of Pęchowo near Bygdoszcz, Poland. He made his first religious vows on 14th September 1961 in Puszczykowo (near Poznan). Father Leon studied philosophy and theology in the seminary of the society of Christ in Poznań. A position of deaconate was adopted on 24th May 1969 in Poznań Cathedral, and Father Leon was ordained to the priesthood on 16th May 1970, in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Bydgoszcz.
A year later, he went to France to prepare for missionary work in Cameroon. Unfortunately, due to poor health, he could not remain long in tropical climates.
After his return to Europe, Father Leon undertook pastoral work among the Poles in England (indeed since 1973). He had worked in the parishes of Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield and Leeds. In 1993, he was appointed as the parish priest in Wolverhampton. In 2001, he retired but resided in Wolverhampton, helping his successor Father Edward Pondel. During his retirement Father Leon studied at the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński in Warsaw and completed a PhD thesis entitled “The Work of the Polish Clergy for the Polish Community in England and Wales after World War 2 “. He died on 7th September 2015 in Wolverhampton and was buried in Poland.
Father Edward Pondel (2001-2014)
Father Edward Ponel was ordained in 1983. After his ordination, he worked as a pastor in Łańcut and Chojnice in Northern Poland, before he was posted to Bydgoszcz, where he helped to build a new centre. After spending some time in Puszczykowo, he was sent to England to serve the Polish community. He was an assistant priest to Father Leon Kołodziejski in Leeds from 1986-1993. In 1993, he (together with Fr Leon), was transferred to Wolverhampton. After the retirement of Father Leon in 2001, Father Edward was our parish priest until September 2014.
In 2014, he was transferred to a parish in Devon and then he moved to the parish of Coventry. In 2016, Father Edward retired and lives in Poland.
Father Kamil Stawiski (2014-2018 )
Father Kamil Stawiski was ordained in 2006. He worked in the parishes of the Holy Trinity in Wyszogród and at St. Thecla in Ciechanów (both in Poland). From 2013, he started to work for the Polish Catholic Mission in the UK in the parishes of Manchester and Cardiff. In September 2014, he became our current parish priest in Wolverhampton. From September 2018, Fr. Kamil will continue his pastoral service in an English parish in Sheldon Birmingham.
Father Tomasz Maziarz (2018-obecnie)
Father Tomasz Maziarz has been a priest for 12 years. He comes from the Archdiocese of Przemyśl. In Poland, he served in three parishes: in Orłach near Przemyśl, Krośno and in Jarosław. He has been in England for a year. A year ago he began his ministry in Bradford, and from September 1 2018, is now the pastor of the Holy Trinity Church in Wolverhampton.
(Opracował J. Szczechowski)