Thursday, July 25, 2013
Fr. Jan Kieliszewski-Rest in Peace
As I hit the "send" button, my daughter Mary came downstairs, and with her 12 years of sweetness, she threw her arms around my neck and embraced me for the longest time. I asked her how she knew that I needed a hug at that particular moment and she simply said, "I could just feel it." I knew that my daughter and her loving, impulsive action was an immediate answer to that prayer request I sent out. My daughter is a joyful Godsend in my life. But not everyone is blessed with a daughter who intuitively knows when they are needing a little extra love.
Last year in my candidacy for the Oblates of the Precious Blood, I corresponded monthly with Mother Marietta from the Handmaids of the Precious Blood. In one particular letter she told me that if I ever feel tempted to something that was very unusual for me, I could know that at that particular moment, a priest somewhere in the world was being tempted with the same thing, and I should pray for him. My struggling to overcome the things that tempt me can help priests in their temptations. That's a powerful thought; that I could help a priest that I may never know to grow in holiness by offering up my sacrifices for him.
Last weekend, just before Sunday Mass was to begin, Fr. Jan Kieliszewski, a priest whom I did not know here in Milwaukee, committed suicide in his church. No one in the Archdiocese can offer any explanation as to why this man, in his mid-sixties, who gave his life over to the service of the Lord and His Church, would have taken his life. It was shocking and deeply sad news that has rocked our already distressed Archdiocese.
I can't help but wonder if I had offered up my melancholy on that recent laundry day if it would it have helped this priest in some way? What if, in that moment when sorrow hit me hard, I would have remembered to tell God, "I give you this pain for the priest who most needs your help at this moment, for a priest who is feeling the pangs of despair" if that might have prompted Fr. Jan to reach out for help and thereby find a way to stay alive until God naturally called him home?
Of course, I'll never know the answer to that question. But as an Oblate of the Precious Blood, I am committed to praying for priests, to offering all that I am for their sanctity, and if I didn't pray enough for priests before Fr. Jan's suicide, I am committed to praying for them more than ever now. And I am committed to lightening their load by offering them loving encouragement and gratitude, and helping them in their valuable and necessary work in any small or large way that I can.
Fr. Jan's name was on the Monthly Prayer Request for Priests calendar on June 18th, and all of Milwaukee was asked to pray for him on that day. My family and I did our part and we prayed for him, as we pray daily for every priest on the calendar when we gather as a family for dinner. And now, I will be praying for Fr. Jan's soul every day for the rest of my life, as well as for the souls of all priests, those living, as well as those deceased. Will you join me, and pray for priests as well? May Fr. Jan, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, eternally embraced in the ever-loving arms of his Father.