I AM THE HAPPIEST MAN!
KRZYSZTOF TADEJ, a journalist of TVP
The oldest Pauline father – Fr. Jerzy Tomziński admits: - When the war began, I was asking God: Will I survive the times of Hitler? And later: will I survive the times of Stalin? I was not asking about the First Holy Communion, as I thought that I would not survive. And here, what a surprise! I survived the times of Hitler, Stalin and even the Holy Communion! Jasna Góra is his whole life
Fr. Jerzy Tomziński lives in Jasna Góra. He is known for great sense of humour, humility and goodness of heart. He has been related to the monastery since his youngest age. He emphasizes that Jasna Gora is his whole life. – Here I know every place, every stone – he adds. As a boy, on 15 August 1932, he was welcoming president Ignacy Mościcki at Jasna Góra. A few years ago he was reminiscing that event: - I was guarding the monastery entrance. I was standing in a uniform, wearing perfectly-ironed trousers. Suddenly, president Mościcki arrived. I still see him as if it was today. A tall man, elegant, wearing a white scarf, a hat and holding a walking stick. When he entered, he shook his hand with me. ‘Good morning, Mr. Chevalier!’. It was how he greeted me, an ordinary boy from a small village, from Przystajnia! In 1935 Jerzy Tomziński joined the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit. At Jasna Góra he experienced the Second World War. He was a witness of hiding the Jews with the risk of life, when help was giving to partisans and soldiers of the National Army. During the war he received priestly ordination. In January 1945 the armies of the Red Army invaded Częstochowa. A few weeks later the communists arrived at Jasna Góra, as well as the representatives of the Temporary Government. Fr. Jerzy was delegated to meet with them. It was one of many meetings, which is characteristic for this monk – openness to people, friendliness, sincerity. In a film ‘God governs the world’ he mentioned that meeting: ’15 men entered. In boots and thick jackets. One of them was the prime minister Osóbka-Morawski. I asked them what they wanted. They said that they had arrived to order a religious service. I picked up a book of intentions. I put down the date for the Holy Mass in the intention of Homeland on 25 March 1945. When I did it, they said that they did not have any money. I said- no problem. Osóbka – Morawski asked: what is needed? I answered that we did not have window panes, as all of them had fallen off the monastery windows, while the Germans were retreating. – In Kielce we have a glass plant – they said. One of them began to write something on a scrap of paper. When they gave it to me, I said: Mr. Prime Minister, will they give us anything without a stamp? And I began to laugh. And he said: Priest, do not laugh. Otherwise we will have cars and everything. And, imagine that this scrap of paper in Kielce let us receive two tons!’
A witness of miracles and conversions
In 1945 Fr. Tomziński was appointed a custodian of the Jasna Góra sanctuary. Four years later he became a parish priest and custodian of Mary’s sanctuary in Leśna Podlaska, but in 1951 he was forced to leave this sanctuary. He returned to Jasna Góra where he was elected the prior.
Fr. Tomziński often says that from the first days of his stay at Jasna Góra, he was a witness of lots of miracles and conversions. – People would fall of chairs from astonishment if I gave surnames of people who got converted here. For example, those were known communists – and he adds: - So many people were here! So many people got converted in front of the image of Our Lady! They arrived here with curiosity and suddenly they got converted. God does miracles at Jasna Góra every day. I witness it.
A witness of history
Fr. Jerzy Tomziński was a witness of many important historic events, some of which he organized – for example, the Jasna Góra Vows of the Nation on 26 August 1956 which were attended by a million of believers. When cardinal Stefan Wyszyński was arrested, Fr. Tomziński, among the others, with Maria Okońska – one of the closest cooperators of the Primate of Poland – began everyday prayers to the Miraculous Image of Our Lady in the intention of releasing cardinal Wyszyński. It was how the famous Appeal Prayer at Jasna Góra began.
A meeting with Father Pio
In 1957 Fr. Tomziński set off to study in Rome. At the beginning the authorities did not want to give him a passport. After intervention of the authorities of Church, he managed to leave the country and began his studies at the Gregorian University. During his stay in Italy he went to San Giovanni Rotondo where he could talk with a famous monk Father Pio. It was how he reminisced those moments: ‘I really wanted to see his stigmas. In the morning I was at the Holy Mass. It is impossible to express these impressions. It was a mystery. He celebrated the Holy Mass very properly. He did not prolong Holy Masses, or he did not bore anyone with his sermons. After consecration I saw that when he was looking at the Host he saw Jesus. I felt so. Among those impressions, I forgot about stigmas and when I looked at his hand, he had already had it covered with his cassock. Later I went to the presbytery. Father Pio came to give blessing to people, to stroke children on their heads, smile and, suddenly, he saw a young man. He looked at him, his smile disappeared and roared: ‘Go away! That young man lowered his eyes and left quickly’.
Fr. Jerzy met with Father Pio again in a monastery and he talked with the future saint there. Finally, he knelt and asked him for blessing. – Father Pio said aloud: - May God bless you – and touched me head. I felt a an excrescence on his hand, as if it was a nut. And it happened what I had wanted – says Fr. Jerzy. And he adds smiling, that even today there appear people in the monastery who want to touch him. Why? Because Father Pio touched him years ago!
A witness of the Second Vatican Council
Fr. Jerzy Tomziński participated in the Second Vatican Council. He contributed to developing the cult of Our Lady of Częstochowa, preparing Her images for all Vatican Council Fathers. Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński gave them out in 1965.
His strength from God
Having returned to Poland Fr. Jerzy was an active participant in his monk’s life. Describing his activity would fill in a few volumes of books. He was, among the others, a chronicle writer at Jasna Góra, a correspondent for the Vatican Radio and Bulletin of the Press Office of the Polish Episcopal Conference, an author of articles for the weekly ‘Niedziela’ (‘Sunday’). In 1990 he became a prior again. During his cadency he prepared the 6th World Youth Days in the sanctuary (1991) with participation of John Paul II. His memories concerning his talks with cardinal Stefan Wyszński and John Paul II are a valuable source for historians. A lot of people visiting Jasna Góra associate Fr. Jerzy with humility and a smile. He can comfort others with a few sentences, cheer others up and bring people to God. We can hear about him that ‘he is a saint priest who gets his strength from God and is a sign that God exists’. Asked if he does not regret choosing monk’s life, he said without hesitation: ‘I never regretted a minute. I am the happiest man!’.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 47/2018 (25 XI 2018)