From very first days of his Vincentian priesthood he dedicated his life and vocation into teaching on various levels and taking care of continuing formation of clergy – following the footsteps of St. Vincent de Paul and early Priests of the Mission – either as young priest completing his educational skill, rector of prep school, principal of high school, Provincial Superior, Vocation Director, member of various educational and religious institutions for the Congregation and the Church, devout preacher and missioner. Father John Sledziona CM, always smiling, always optimistic, with his special mustache, celebrates 40 years of service at Eucharistic Table.
Jubilee celebrations are held today at St.Peter’s Church, Concord, NH. There will be special Mass of Thanksgiving in the temple where Fr. John spent most o his pastoral ministry.
Fr. John Sledziona CM was born in St Michael the Archangel parish in Derby, Conn. on December 23, 1942. On June 12, 1962, he entered Congregation of the Mission in Polish Vice-Province in the USA starting the Internal Seminary Formation in St. Vincent Seminary, Germantown, Penn. (at present CAMM Shrine). On June 13, 1967 he took hi perpetual vows. Theological studies completed in Vincentian Mary Immaculate Seminary, Northampton, Penn and graduated with Master of Theology (M.Th.) degree. Here John Sledziona was ordained priest on May 30, 1970.
Right after ordinations he was assigned to St. John Kanty Prep in Erie, Penn., as religion and English teacher. Meanwhile, in 1973, he graduated from Edinboro State University (of Pennsylvania, Erie, PA) as Master of Arts in English (M.A.) and served in Campus Ministry of Alliance College, Cambridge Springs, PA. In 1976 he was appointed Superior of Erie House (St. John Kanty) and held this position until 1978. Next moved to St. Joseph’s parish, Ansonia, Conn. where Fr. John became first Vocation Director in newly erected Province of New England.
When St. John Kanty Prep was closed in June 1980, Fr. Sledziona, together with Fr.Mitchell Wanat and Brother Joseph Zurowski, were sent to Concord, New Hampshire. There they took over management of the Bishop Brady High School while their residence wsa in Laboure House, Bow, NH. Earlier, in 1982 Fr. Sledziona became Principal of the Bishop Brady High School. (Fr. Mitchell was chaplain and Bro. Joseph Chairman of English Department) and left the office in 1986. In August 1983 Laboure House was suppressed and Vincentians moved to St Peter’s Rectory in Concord, NH. When Fr. Chester Mrowka CM became Visitor of the New England Province in 1987, Fr. John succeeded him as pastor and superior of St.Peter’s, Concord. In 1987, bishop of Manchester appointed him Dean of Concord Deanery (replaced in 1996). Meanwhile in 1984 – 1996 he was Board Member of Vincentians Studies Institute, DePaul University, Chicago, IL. One of the goals of V.S.I. those days was preparation of English translation of P.Coste’s work on St. Vincent de Paul, his correspondence and other documents. The other was completion of history of Congregation of the Mission in the United States.
Father John has conducted many parish retreats and days of recollection, as well as extended retreats for religious women and men. In 1979 to 1981 and again 1987 – 1995 he was Provincial Consultor.
He left both posts in Concord after being elected Provincial Superior himself on August 22, 1996. As fourth Visitor of New England Fr. Sledziona experienced some wins and loses of the Province. The “win-somes” were acceptance of St. Cyril & Methodius Parish in Lower-Greenpoint, Brooklyn. NY and Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Stamford, CT and office of Vicar for Clergy in Maine (Fr. Kuzia). The “lose-somes” were closing of St. Vincent Mission in Utica, NY and the three-in-one parish concept in Lisbon Falls, NY. In August 2005 Father was succeeded by Fr. Roman Gorowski CM as new elected Visitor.
As a part of reconfiguration of American Provinces (in 1975 three new provinces were erected enlarging the number to five, including the Province of New England) Superior General has constituted National Conference of Visitors of the United States (NCV) as advisory body to continue interprovincial collaboration (one of the authorities delegated to NCV is moving confreres from apostolates in one province to another). On July 1, 2002 Fr. John Sledziona was appointed first President of NCV for three years period.
In February 2006, Father John was appointed Pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish in New Haven, Conn. In October that year, he was elected to the Board of Trustees for Niagara University in Niagara Falls, New York and in the same time began his new assignment as Director of Clergy Formation for the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, which he holds in present being responsible for permanent deacons continuing formation program. In April 2007, he was elected to the Editorial Board of the Vincentian Studies Institute. And in January 2008, Father John became a member of the Governing Council for NOCERCC (National Organization for the Continuing Education of the Roman Catholic Clergy.) Since 2006 he is residing at St. Peter’s Rectory, Concord, NH.