05 May 2018

This Week Letter – May 6, 2018

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Dear Parishioners and Friends,

How quickly time flies! Today, I remember May 1988, when I was ordained a priest at the hands of His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. I was the first seminarian from outside the Archdiocese of Chicago to be  ordained for this Archdiocese.  That decision was made personally by Cardinal Bernardin, at the request of his mother Maria. The next day I celebrated my First Holy Mass here in the church of St. Constance. Present at this Mass were my parents  Antoni and Maria Dzieszko, as well as Maria Bernardin and many guests from Chicago and the surrounding area. Also present was His Excellency Bishop Thad Jakubowski, who accompanied me and supported me for many years of my priestly journey. Many of you who are my friends to this day were there, too. Unfortunately, with heavy heart, I realize that many of those who had shown me much empathy, love and goodness have gone to the Lord for their eternal reward. I remember them in my prayers and Masses.

At the conclusion of  my First Mass, there was a reception  in the “Handzel Center”, prepared by Mr. Edward Moskal together with the  Saint M. Kolbe Polish School. The parish of St. Constance was my first parish assignment and Fr. Thomas Rzepiela my first pastor. My closest associates were: Fr. Marcin Borowczyk, Fr. Robert Nedza and Fr. Ronan Pozen. The atmosphere was congenial. At the time, there was only one Polish Sunday Mass at 8:30 in the morning, which was attended by about two hundred people. From that time on, parish development was thrilling. Soon, the Polish Mass was moved to 9:00 in the morning with 1,400 people participating   Even with the introduction of an additional Mass at 1:30 in the afternoon, more people continued coming.  I celebrated 70 to 90 weddings each year.  There was no sacristan, so I had to do all the preparations, including setting up the kneelers and closing the doors of the church.  I memorized every corner of the entire complex.  The parish administration, at some point, suggested building a multi-storied car park. So it continued  until 1995.

After a six-month stay in Rome came a transfer for a year to Saint Ferdinand Parish, followed by an almost six-year pastorship at the Parish of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Cicero. Both  Highlanders and Old Polonia, Latinos and other Americans accepted me there with great kindness. There I was also a chaplain of the Police, Fire Brigade and town of Cicero. Thanks to the good cooperation of the parishioners, I renovated all the parish buildings in a short time. During my stay in Cicero, I initiated two huge charitable radio campaigns: one in 1997 for the renovation of the old Fortifications at Jasna Góra and another in 2001 for the Chapel of the Miraculous Image in Częstochowa. Thanks to the good cooperation of the Polish National Association and the WPNA and WNVR radio stations, we managed to collect over two million dollars for these charities. In my spare time I was involved in the work of the Catholic League. Father General Stanisław Turek and Father General Izydor Matuszewski and the Pauline Order, in gratitude for my efforts, awarded me the title of  Confrere (Fellow) of the Monastery and Order of Jasna Góra.

In 2003, I returned as the ninth pastor of St. Constance. I am grateful for your kindness, your generosity, your love, your prayers, and for your support in difficult times. I am glad that God allowed us to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the parish together in 2016. I will remember many of you as my greatest friends. No matter where I will be, my gratitude and my prayers will always be with you. May the Lord bless in abundance all the associate priests, the sisters, my parishioners, friends and my family; and may the Good Lord reward your every good deed!   I love you all and I  ask you to remember me in your prayers.