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Congratulations Fr. Waclaw Hlond: you are a priest for 65 years… and counting

Waclaw Hlond 2013 banner Fotor 2What did happen on May 15, 1955 in history? Vienna Treaty: Britain, France, US & USSR restored Austria’s independence. US performed nuclear test at Nevada Test Site. Makalu, the world’s fifth highest mountain was ascented for the first time. A month earlier scientist Jonas Salk announced the first successful polio vaccine, which was rapidly adopted around the world. In Kraków, Poland, deacons Wacław A. Hłond, Leon Jezierski and Henryk Krzysteczko were ordianed priest in the Province of Poland of the Congregation of the Mission.

Times were hard those days in the country. Eastern Europe behind Iron Curtain looked much different than the Western part of the continent under Marshal Plan. Church was persecuted. To become a priest in those days was bigger challenge than before.

Fr. Wacław Hłond (pronounced: Va-tz-wa-v) was born on July 12, 1929 in Blachownia, a town near Czestochowa, Poland. He entered the Congregation of the Mission on October 7, 1951. He pronounce his Good Purpose (a Vincentian form of temporary vows) on Ocotber 11, 1953 and was took his final vows on April 24, 1955 and three weeks later , May 15, 1955, he was ordained a priest. His first and only assignment in Poland was in the Our Lady of Rosary Parish in Pabianice, in the heart of Poland.  He was a vicar and catechist there for three years.

In the late 1958 Fr. “Wacek” (pronounced Va-tz-ek) has arrived to the United States. And as most other Missioners who came to then Vice-Province of Poland in the USA he started his American experience at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish in New Haven, Connecticut.  In 1959 he was apppointed  parish vicar at St. Stanislaus and held this position until he was moved (1961) to new post in St. Joseph Parish, Ansonia, Connecticut, as vicar too. In 1964 Father was assigned to popular missions team in Whitestone, New York , and at the same time continued his education at Central Michigan University campus in Metro Washington.D.C.  In 1967 he returned to Mission House in Utica, NY where he served as second superior (succeeding Fr. Arciszewski) until end of 1973.

On February 1, 1974 he took position of pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish in New Haven being welcomed as an “old friend” by the parishioners. During his pastorate the happy occasion took place at 9 Eld Street. On April 23, 1975 Polish mission in Connecticut separated from the Province of Poland and was erected as independent New England Province of the Congregation of the Mission.  The parish of St. Stanislaus in New Haven was established the firts, temorary Provincial Residence.

As a pastor. Fr. Hlond’s first major activity in New Haven was to supervise the actual construction of new four-car garage (blueprints were prepared by previous pastor Fr. Julian Szumilo). Another accomplishment was the continuation of repainting of the church by Anthony Amato in 1974, furnishing the sanctuary with new chair of celebrant, concelebrants and new lectern. In 1975 he supervised redecoration and renovation of the auditorium  and repainting of convent chapel. In the year of Diamond Jubilee of the parish (1975) Fr. Hlond additionally became superior of the community.

From 1973 to 1975 Father was member of Vice-Provincial Council. Again in 1979 – 1981 was Provincial Councilor. On September 8, 1981  he was elected the third Visitor (Provincial Superior) of the New England Province succeeding Fr. Julian Szumilo. In 1984 re-elected for second term. He stayed in then Provincial House in West Hartford, Conn. for another year and in 1988 he came to St. Joseph Parish in Ansonia, CT for the seocnd time. He served as superior (until 1994) and pastor (till 1996). In 1996 returned to New Haven for the third time, again as superior and pastor. In 2006 he retired and moved agaian to Ansonia where he has been resident until now.

On this very special jubilee celebration day so rarely experienced we send  Fr. Waclaw our hearfelt greetings and wishes of abundant graces from Jesus Christ, the Eternal Priest, in his life, health and in living on the Vincentian charism. May the Lord bless and protect you Father!

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