New chaplain for the Polish community

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Home > Media > News > New chaplain for the Polish community
New chaplain for the Polish community

The Polish community in Moonah have welcomed a new chaplain who is finding Tasmania somewhat similar to where he grew up in Poland.

Fr Jozef Migacz SChr arrived in Tasmania in mid-January, and has replaced Fr Kazimierz Bojda SChr who has transferred to Mayfield, New South Wales.

It is the seventh Australian appointment for Fr Jozef, who has spent most of his priesthood ministering to the spiritual needs of Polish communities in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia.

Born in a small town near Krakow, Poland, he entered the seminary after finishing college at the age of 19. His community, the Society of Christ, specialize in serving Polish migrants around the world.

Following his ordination, he spent several years working in parishes in Poland before preparing to be posted overseas. He had thought he would be sent to France.

“I was preparing for the Polish people in France,” Fr Jozef said.

“I learnt the French language in college and in the seminary.”

However, when the Father General of his community returned from a visit to Australia, he told the young Fr Jozef that he must go to Australia “for a few years”.

“Those ‘few years’ are now 36 years!” Fr Jozef said.

He was sent first to Brisbane, where he was placed in a full-time English-language course. He then spent seven years in Dandenong and Ringwood in Melbourne, five years in Sydney at the Polish War Memorial Chapel, six years in Adelaide with the large Polish community there, six years in Geelong and then a further 12 years at St Alban’s in Melbourne.

It has been a “gypsy life”, Fr Jozef says.

During his time in Melbourne, he and his local Polish community attended the meeting St Pope John Paul II held with the Polish people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Their devotion to the Polish pope was such that they began celebrating an annual Mass to commemorate the event.

Now Fr Jozef is that that much closer to the pope who became a saint – serving in the same parish John Paul II visited as a cardinal in 1973.

He is already becoming busy with ministry, visiting nursing homes, organising Masses and taking part in prayer the Polish community holds following the Polish-language Masses in Moonah.

“I must serve my people every day, that’s all,” Fr Jozef says about his ministry.

His first time to Tasmania, he says it is similar to the mountainous area of Poland where he grew up – and where his younger brother still lives.

He has already celebrated his first marriage in Tasmania – only four days after he arrived. Partly in English and partly in Polish, the Mass was celebrated with Fr Mark Hanns, parish priest of Moonah-Lutana.

Last year, Fr Jozef celebrated his 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.