Meet Fr Dominik Dominick Zwierzychowski OMI will be joining the Oblate mission in Britain and Ireland
We sat down with Fr Dominik Zwierzychowski OMI, who will be joining the Oblate mission in Britain and Ireland later this year. Fr. Dominik is 27 years old and he was ordained to the priesthood in 2018. He was born in a small town called Grodzisk in the west of Poland (near Poznan) and at present he is engaged in youth ministy in his native Poland. Two years ago he visited the Oblate mission here for the first time and was recently appointed to permanently join the mission in Britain and Ireland.
Fr Dominik, can you tell us about what it was like coming from Poland to London?
One of the very first words I learned in English was the word “enjoy”. Years later, when I arrived in the UK for the first time as an Oblate, I heard it over and over, right from the very beginning of my stay. ‘Did you enjoy your flight?’ That was the first question I was asked when I landed at the airport! The Oblates in London received me as their own brother. I felt very much accepted into the community, right into both the ups and down of community life!
I was given so many great opportunities to preach about vocations every weekend in our parishes. I shared the story of my own vocation, as well as the importance of our responsibility for new missions. I was assigned to work in pastoral practice at the Sacred Heart parish in London where I preached, baptised and helped Oblates in the ways I could.
Both the lay people and the Oblates did their very best to help me feel supported and welcomed, and for that I am grateful. At the end of my experience, the Oblates from Quex Road organised three days of personal retreat for me in Crewe. That was the best gift they could have given to me – this valuable time spent at the Retreat Centre helped me to really assess and look back on my stay in the UK.
These experiences and time of recollection confirmed for me that I really wanted to join the mission in the Anglo-Irish Province. It has been two years since my time in the UK, and looking back, I have to say, I truly did enjoy my time when I met the Anglo-Irish Oblates and worked with them for the very first time.
Why did you decide to join the Mission in Britain and Ireland?
Firstly, because I am honestly convinced that it is my generation which is responsible for the future of the Congregation and our Province; remembering how so many Oblates of older generations who so selflessly gave their youth for the work of missions. Their example inspires me and hopefully others to follow in their footsteps. I also have memories of many people who personally asked me each Sunday after mass: “Please come back to us!”, “We need you!”, and “We will pray that you will come back”.
Another reason, which is so essential for me, is an ideal that was expressed many times by my personal hero, Cardinal Francis George OMI, the late Archbishop of Chicago. His principal project was the evangelisation of the culture. He said several times in an interview with Bishop Robert Barron (the founder of the Word on Fire Institute, a multi-media project which seeks to evangelise and answer questions on our faith): “You cannot evangelise a culture you don’t love!” What wise words! What a simple and easy way to enable you to enjoy your mission; both the joys and worries that being on mission creates.
What is like to go out on Mission to a new country as an Oblate?
If somebody were to ask me what does it feel like to be an Oblate Missionary coming to this province, I would answer “It’s simple and easy”! It’s simple as long as you love the Lord and the tasks he gives to you. It’s simple as long as you love the people you serve. It’s simple as long as you love the place you live.
What about worries
Well, who lives without them? In his youth Francis George was not accepted by the local seminary because he had suffered from polio. But he never gave up. He found a different route to priesthood, which was through our Congregation. And Saint Eugene de Mazenod? The same. So many worries he had also; his broken family and an uncertain future. But both of these men surmounted their worries through their love for the people and places they served.
What’s next for you?
I am looking forward with great joy to my new mission with all my heart. As you know, Father General Louis Lougen OMI appointed me as a member of the Anglo-Irish Province from the beginning of September this year. After one year of pastoral practice in my native Province in Poland, I’ve learned so much. For the past year, I was a part-time catechesis teacher at the Technical College. At the same time, for last few years, I was a parish chaplain for youth, for confirmation classes, and a Bible study group. However, one of my chief interests is the “New Evangelisation”. Some of the major figures that have influenced me, and who I continually go to for their wisdom and teachings, are Pope St John Paul II, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Cardinal Francis George and Bishop Robert Barron.
All of them are advocates of seeking new ways to connect with many people;
“to rekindle the flame that has all but died in the hearts of many”
as St. Eugene wrote in the Preface to our Constitutions and Rules. As am I! Twitter, Facebook and any other tools we can use are essential to reach out, even if it is just one seed, to fall on one person to help them to realise that they are loved by God.
What does it mean to work on the new ways of evangelisation?
Firstly, it is to understand what you yourself believe, and secondly, to try and bring this faith and knowledge out into the world and to know how to share it with happiness. That first question comes to my mind many times while writing this article – “Did you enjoy yourself?” Ask yourself: do you derive joy and cheerfulness from what you do now? Do you get any enjoyment from your current mission? Perhaps sometimes you are overwhelmed by your work and commitments? Let’s rethink that. Let’s “rekindle the flame that has all but died in the hearts of many”.
Let’s enjoy our mission.
– Fr Dominick Zwierzychowski OMI
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