Fr. Marek Sobczak CM – a priest since thirty years

April 25, is the feast of St. Mark, Evangelist. In 1981, this day was the magnificent event in the Vincentian seminary and Province of Poland, too. Twenty young men were ordained priests, another ten were received to deaconate. It was second time in the post war history of Province of Poland to have so many new priests. And… it never occurred again. Almost half of those twenty new ordained Vincentian priests dedicated their priesthood to ministry outside Poland, in D.R. Congo, Madagascar, Brazil, Austria and USA. Fr. Marek SOBCZAK, nowadays, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Brooklyn, NY, was one of two who were sent to new mission in New England in 1983.

Marek Wincenty Sobczak was born on July 19, 1955 in Bydgoszcz, Poland where the Vincentian parish of St. Vincent de Paul was erected in 1925 to commemorate 300th anniversary of Congregation of the Mission foundation. it remains one the largest and most significant Vincentian locations in Poland with numerous vocations feeding the community. After completing secondary education on December 8, 1974 he was received to the Congregation of the Mission in Krakow, Poland. He studied Philosophy and Theology at Vincentian Fathers Institute of Theology (ITKM) located at Stradom House in Kraków. Thanks to affiliation of the Institute to the Theological Faculty of Pontifical Academy of Theology (presently John Paul II Pontifical University) he graduated the seminary with M.A. diploma in Psychology. On December 8, 1980 he took his vows. Ordained by Bishop Albin Malysiak CM on April 25, 1981.

It was very important year int he history of Poland. The year of SOLIDARITY. Time of joy and freedom gained by Poles in August 1980 when the first ever independent from communist regime trade union was established as a result of nationwide strikes. And time before this freedom was shut down with the imposition of Martial Law in December 1981. Such numerous new priests and deacons in the Province of Poland were a very special blessing for the community.

After ordination Fr. Marek was sent to Holy Family Parish in Tarnow, Poland as his first assignment. First of all his a catechist there, teaching religion on four different school levels. Additionally, he animated and directed parish group of so called ŚWIATŁO-ŻYCIE (Light-Life) youth movement created in late 1950s in Kroscienko, in Pieniny Mountains, Southern Poland by Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki. Due to eased ralations between Church and state in Poland in 1970s movement’s development was tolerated by the administration but never officially recognized. Commonly, Swiatlo-Zycie movent was called OAZA referring to oasis on the deserts, the only enclaves of life among sands and no-life around. In 1980s OAZA groups were growing in many parishes becoming quite interesting and attractive alternative youth education program, independent form government policy. Summer or winter camps were an essential activity of those groups followed by in-parish formation during the school year.

These were not the only responsibilities of young vicar in Tarnow. He was involved in pastoral program for families, helped as chaplain in city hospital and worked as a chaplain in state correction facility, one of the largest in the region. Being so naturally vigorous and dynamic it was not easy to find any piece of parish life where Fr. Marek could not be involved wholeheartedly.

On August 29, 1983 he started new chapter of his life. As first Polish Vincentians did in 1904 he arrived to St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish in New Haven, CT. The Motherhouse of New England Province was his first American assignment. For three years he was responsible for the Polish Saturday School. Additionally he moderated the Folk Music Group and Altar Server in the parish. In the same time he completed English as Second Language (ESL) course at St. Michael’s College, Winooski, VT.

In September 1986 moved to St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Brooklyn, NY for the first time. He was parochial vicar until January 1988. Among his responsibilities were teaching in confirmation classes, care of Altar Servers and some parish organizations. Next he came to St. Peter’s Parish in Concord, NH as parochial vicar and to continue his English studies. In September 1989 he returned to St. Stanislaus Parish, New Haven, CT as vicar continuing to help run the parish groups and organizations. Besides continuous work on improving his English he got focus computer science becoming most proficient in it in the Province.

In September 1994 Father was appointed superior of the St. Vincent Mission House in Utica, NY. There he served celebrating Masses in many local communities and preaching popular missions and Forty Hours Devotions. He was the last superior of the community in Utica. The House was officially closed in 1997. Ministry in Utica helped Fr. Marek flex his wings to prepare for pastorate in Ansonia.

From St. Vincent Mission House Father was reassigned to St. Joseph’s Parish, Ansonia, CT. In addition he was Director of the parish school, was deeeply involved in the hospital care of the sick, chaplain of the Parish organizations. Always was eager to help local clergy with sacramental services and preaching.
With his support, a modern Music Group, WITRAZ (Stained Window) was formed and their first music CD titled “TAJEMNICA” (Mystery) was professionally recorded and published. There were also JASELKA, traditional Polish Christmas performance staged by adults and children presented annually in the parish house. Watch Fr. Marek perfoming  in 2006 show:

Thanks to his invention and creativity Dances sponsored by the parish were organized to improve the social well-being of the parishioners.
In 1996 he was first elected to Provincial Council as one of councilors holding the position until 2000. Then in 2002 again. In September 2005 has been elected again as councilor and Assistant Provincial. He was delegate of the New England Province for the 41st General Assembly of the Congregation of the Mission in Paris in 2010.

In September 2008 Father was called from Ansonia to St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Brooklyn, NY again. This time as pastor and superior of the Vincentian community. He does everything he can to animate the life of the parish and meet all challenges and vulnerabilities. One of strongest challenges was saving St. Stanislaus Kostka School and transforming it into St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy in 2010 according to new standards imposed by Diocese of Brooklyn. Among his other concerns are renovation and replacement of heating system in the church and rectory which still under planning.
Thanks to Fr. Sobczak, St. Stanislaus Kostka church is the first parochial community in the United States were the relics of Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko were introduced and located.

Because the priesthood anniversary is on Easter Monday, parishioners have prepared anniversary celebrations anticipating the beatification of John Paul II and pearl anniversary of their pastor. The special Thanksgiving Mass was celebrated at 11:30 AM Sunday Mass, April 3, presided by Fr. Jaroslaw Lawrenz CM, parochial vicar. Fr. Jarek took care of all preparations. Children of the parish’s Maria Konopnicka Polish Supplementary School, under the direction of their principal, Danuta Bronchard, and Grazyna Michalska, the children brought smiles to most everyone, and tears of joy to some, as the congregation listened to them speak about the Pope and listened to them sing some of the same Polish hymns John Paul II loved to sing himself.

At the end of the service children sang a special greetings song to their Pastor:

Wszystkiego dobrego / życzymy, życzymy / i zdrowia i szczęścia i błogosławieństwa / przez ręce Maryi.
Przez ręce Maryi / niech miłośc i pokój w sercu Twoim gości / niech nigdy nie braknie, niech nigdy nie braknie / ludzkiej życzliwości.

All the best / we greet / we greet / and health, and happiness, and blessing / by the hands of Mary
By the hands of Mary / let love and peace abide in heart of yours / let never ends, let never ends / people’s kindness.

After the Eucharist reception, prepared by the Rosary Society, Friends of the Missions, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Society, followed in St. Stanislaus Academy Auditorium, 12 Newell Street, where Father Marek’s parishioners had chance to extend their congratulations and best wishes to their pastor on his special anniversary marking the day a spirit-lifting and memorable Sunday morning for everyone.

Watch Facebook picture gallery from the event

In the parish bulletin (Sunday, April 10) Fr. Marek thanked in these words, “I wish to express my appreciation to everyone who donated their time and effort, so that I could thank God for the 30 years of priestly service in the presence of our parish community. I am grateful to the children and adults for the prayers, poems, wishes and kind words. I am grateful for the baked goods, for the flowers, cards, gifts and for your presence at the Mass and in the auditorium. Thank you for your big hearts! Thank you for the gathering filled with such joy, which I did not expect…” READ FULL TEXT FROM THE BULLETIN (English & Polish)


1 comment to Fr. Marek Sobczak CM – a priest since thirty years

  • Bernadeta Kisiel

    Gratulacie I serdeczne dzieki za wierna posluge Bogu I Ludziom przez te 30 lat.
    Ksieze Marku, te piekne kazania pamietamy do dzis.

    Bernadeta Kisiel
    St. Stanislaus church, New Haven, CT

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