By DIANE R. CHODAN
OBSERVER Staff Writer
Father Lucjan Krolikowski's book, "A Franciscan Odyssey" contains the stuff of which high drama or an epic movie is made of. What is amazing is that it is a true story, his autobiography.
Father Lucjan Krolikowski, 93, whose autobiography, “A Franciscan Odyssey,” has now been translated into English and is available as an ebook.
Fr. Lucjan, now 93 and living in Chicopee, Mass.,was encouraged to write his autobiography by the 150 war orphans he helped relocate to Canada after World War II.
Krolikowski entered the Franciscan seminary in Niepokanlanow, Poland in 1935. At that time, the monastery was under the spiritual influence of Maksymilian Kolbe (who was declared a saint of the Catholic Church in 1982.) At the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Krolikowski was a seminarian in Lwow, in eastern Poland. His studies were interrupted by the war. About one and a half million Poles, including Krolikowski, were arrested and deported to Siberia by the Soviet Union. At this time, Nazi Germany and Joseph Stalin's regime had a non-aggression pact in existence. Germany had invaded Poland from the west and the Soviet Union had invaded Poland from the east.
Once deported, Krolikowski worked as a logger in Taiga in a labor camp, under extremely poor conditions. He was eventually freed and became a member of the Free Polish Army established in the Soviet Union especially to fight the Nazis (after Germany invaded the Soviet Union).
Krolikowski finished his studies for the priesthood in Beirut after the war. Eventually, he was sent as a chaplain to a large Polish settlement camp located in present day Tanzania, East Africa. While there, he ministered to the displaced Polish civilians, including 150 Polish orphans who had lost their parents in Siberia.
After the camp was closed, the fate of the orphans was uncertain. Father Lucjan was instrumental in taking them to Canada. Secret deals and negotiations took place involving church officials, Polish dignitaries from the government-in-exile and Canadian officials. For his role, the Polish Communist government (under the 'protection' of the Soviet Union) accused Fr. Lucjan of "kidnapping on a grand scale."
Fr. Lucjan continued his interest in "his orphans" even when he was given other assignments. He did parish work in Montreal, and is known to many residents in Western New York as the producer of the Father Justin Rosary Hour which broadcast worldwide from Athol Springs, N.Y.. for 40 years.
Fr. Lucjan has other connections to the local area. His first book was "Stolen Childhood: A Saga of Polish War Children." Dr. Calvin Smith, a professor of English at SUNY Fredonia and Catherine Morrissey, who was an English teacher at Dunkirk High School for many years, provided editorial assistance for that effort. In May 1998, Fr. Lucjan spoke to the Rosary Society at St. Hedwig's in Dunkirk about this book. The event was reported by by the OBSERVER.
"A Franciscan Odyssey" was translated and adapted by Dr. Gosia Bykczynska of London, England. It is available for purchase as an eBook at www.BN.com. Search the book's title. One of the interesting reviews of Fr. Lucjan's writing on that site is by Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977-81.
Locally, the Book Nook will have copies of the CD-ROM version of the book for sale.
Further information is also available on Bill Park's website, www.wrparks.com.
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