Bozek in USA Weekend magazine

Bozek in USA Weekend magazine

Guess which schismatic Polish priest, formerly of Springfield, Missouri, now living in St. Louis, was one of several people profiled in this week’s USA Weekend magazine regarding his encounter with Pope John Paul II?

The Rev. Marek B. Bozek, 31, a Catholic priest in Springfield, Mo., grew up in Communist Poland and met the pope several times, most recently on Jan. 6.

I was 9 years old when I saw and heard John Paul II in person, during a visit to Poland. I was a small child, excitedly following with my eyes the tiny white figure on a distant stage, hearing words that were officially forbidden. The crowd was chanting “Solidarity,” right after “Long live the pope.” With every fiber of my being, I somehow knew I was a part of something bigger, and everybody around me realized as well that with this man in white, we are a force that nothing can stop.

In early June of 1991, after the Solidarity movement was victorious, I met the pope for the first time face-to-face when I was 17. He visited my hometown. I was an altar boy during the papal Mass. He spoke about the link between freedom and truthfulness. He encouraged us to remain true to our faith. I knew then, to be a truly free person, I had to serve others as a priest.

A few years later, already as a seminarian preparing for the priesthood, I visited Rome in July 1995. Our group was invited then to join the Holy Father. As he was greeting each one of us, he exchanged a few words with each seminarian. I told him I was from the town of Olsztyn, and he said, “Oh, I was there just four years ago!” I answered, “Yes, Holy Father, and this is why I am here today as a seminarian.”

Nothing necessarily nefarious in that, but it just seems odd that of all the Polish priests in the US, USA Weekend found Bozek to interview. I’m sure that the lead time on this article was such that Bozek was interviewed before he jumped ship in Springfield (otherwise his bio would say something different), so it’s not his newfound notoriety. Just odd.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli