Happy 100th Birthday, Friar Łucjan!

Fr. Łucjan Królikowski, OFM Conv. is the oldest living friar of our Order and we are proud to say a friar of Our Lady of the Angels Province. On September 1, 2019, the Minister General of our Order – Fr. Carlos A. Trovarelli, OFM Conv. issued Congratulatory Letter from Rome This Saturday, September 7, 2019 we will celebrate his 100th Birthday. His life’s story is richly interwoven with world history.

Born on September 7, 1919, in Nowe Kramsko, Poland, the son of Stanisław and Victoria (Tomiak) Królikowski, Friar Łucjan entered the friary in Niepokalanów, Poland at the age of 15 (1934). He had a very close relationship with St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, OFM Conv. and lived in community with him for three years, professing Simple Vows in his presence, three days before WWII broke out in Poland, on September 1, 1939, after his time in the Novitiate (1939 – seen smiling in the photo at right, with St. Maximilian seated) of Niepokalanów, completing his studies in Philosophy, in 1940 before his arrest by the Soviets. In a 2015 interview with USA News Service – the National Catholic Register, Friar Łucjan stated that he wanted to be a priest like Kolbe after reading his contributions to Niepokalanów’s daily newspaper, “Mały Dziennik,” published during Kolbe’s years in Japan. 
Friar Łucjan was sent to a Gulag Labor Camp in Siberia, in 1940, where he spent 13-14 hours each day cutting down trees, fed only an occasional piece of bread. Less than a year after Friar Łucjan’s arrest, St. Maximilian Kolbe was arrested by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz. Friar Łucjan was released because Russia needed able men to serve in the military. Finally, after serving Russia in the Polish Army, he was able to continue with his studies in Theology in 1946, at the Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth (Saint Joseph University – Beirut, Lebanon), and he celebrated his Solemn Profession of Vows as a Franciscan Conventual, on July 14, 1945.
Excerpt from the recent 8-14-2019 interview published by NCR:
“When Hitler invaded Russia, Russia was so afraid it released those who could serve in the army,” Father Łucjan recalled. Because his temporary vows had expired (until then he was exempt from military service), Father Łucjan was sent from the camp “to military school for artillery, very close to the Chinese border — far away from the front,” he said. He served in the Polish army. His next move, being sent to Persia and Iraq, proved to be the surprise re-entry into the seminary. “When we arrived near Bagdad, I applied for seminary, the Franciscan seminary,” he recalled. Priests were needed for the Polish Liberation Army, which was looking for men who already had some of their studies completed. “I was taken out of the military and sent to Beirut, Lebanon. I stayed four years in Beirut and was educated by the French Jesuits. I was ordained in Beirut” as a Conventual Franciscan friar, he explained.
Friar Łucjan was Ordained to the Priesthood on June 30, 1946, at the Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, by the late +Archbishop Rémy-Louis Leprêtre, O.F.M., was serving as Apostolic Delegate to Syria at the time. After some time serving as a military hospital chaplain, he ended up as chaplain of a Refugee Camp, in Africa where he found himself protecting over 150 Polish Gulag Camp Orphans from Polish Communism on a journey that led out of Africa, to Italy, then Germany, and onto Canada where Montréal’s Cardinal [Paul-Émile] Léger became their protector.
Friar Łucjan did not leave ministry in Canada until 1966, when he moved to Athol Springs, New York (USA), where he wrote the broadcasts and prepared most of the speeches during over three decades of ministry with the Father Justin Rosary Hour. The Rosary Hour remains the oldest Catholic radio program in the Polish language, and a ministry of Our Lady of the Angels Province (USA).

Books by Fr. Łucjan Królikowski, OFM Conv.:
Stolen Childhood: A Saga of Polish War Children
A Franciscan Odyssey: Autobiography of WW II Prisoner, Soldier, Priest and Foster Parent
Miłość mi wszystko wyjaśniła. Przygody ducha

 

Ministry Assignments

1946-1947   Chaplain, Polish Military General Hospital, El-Qantara el-Sharqîya, Egypt
1947-1949   Chaplain, Refugee Camp, Tengeru, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Africa
1949-1958   Chaplain, Polish War Orphans, Montréal, Canada
1958-1964   Associate Pastor, St. Mary’s Church, Montréal, Canada
1964-1966   Guardian and Pastor, St. Mary’s Friary and Church, Montréal, Canada
1966-1998   Secretary, Fr. Justin Rosary Hour, Athol Springs, NY
1982-1988   Guardian, St. Anthony Friary, Athol Springs, NY
1999-2003   Parochial Vicar, Basilica of St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr, Chicopee, MA
2003-2009   Part-Time Parochial Vicar, ” ”
2009-2014   St. Hyacinth Friary, Chicopee, MA
2014 – today   Our Lady of the Angels Care Center, Enfield, CT

More on the life of Friar Łucjan:
Childhood DENIED
Polinia Music
2013 Order of the Smile Award
Prior Articles on his life on this SITE

 

Click on this photo to find more pictures from the day, on our Province Facebook Page.

Special publication of a set of his works (in Polish) published in honor of his 100th birthday.

Letter from His Excellency Mr. Maciej Golubiewski,
Consul General of the Republic of Poland to the United States.

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Fr. Łucjan Krolikowski, OFM Conv. – 100th Birthday Mass 

Introduction:
Niech bedzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!
Today, as we celebrate the one hundredth birthday of our beloved brother, Father Łucjan Krolikowski, I welcome all of you to this Holy Mass. Father Łucjan and all of us are greatly honored to recognize the presence of His Excellency, Mr. Maciej Golubiewski, the Consul General of the Republic of Poland. We offer you our humble esteem. We also acknowledge, with gratitude, the presence of Father Marian Gołąb, the Minister Provincial of our Franciscan Order in Kraków, Poland, and of Father Jarosław Zachariasz, the former Minister Provincial of Kraków, and of Father Michael Zielke, the Minister Provincial of St. Bonaventure Province in Chicago. Fr. Łucjan and we Franciscans thank all of the local civic leaders and religious leaders, clergy, sisters, and friars who are here today. Among our treasured guests in this Basilica this morning are the surviving Polish orphans whom Fr. Łucjan, accompanied from Siberia to Africa, and later, like Moses, led to freedom in Canada over seventy years ago. To all of you I say: A hundred thousand welcomes. If Father Łucjan were Irish, he would say to you in the Gaelic language: go raibh mile maith agat – May a thousand goodnesses be yours [May there be a thousand goodnesses to you]!

{Dzisiaj, kiedy obchodzimy setne urodziny naszego ukochanego brata, Ojca Lucjana Królikowskiego, witam was wszystkich na tej Mszy Świętej. Ojciec Lucjan i wszyscy z ogromnym zaszczytem rozpoznamy obecność Jego Ekscelencji, Pana Macieja Golubiewskiego, Konsul Generalny Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej. Oferujemy ci nasz skromny szacunek. Z wdzięcznością przyjmujemy także obecność Ojca Mariana Golaba, Ministra Prowincjalnego naszego Zakonu Franciszkańskiego w Krakowie, oraz Ojca Jarosława Zachariasza, byłego Ministra Prowincjalnego Krakowa, oraz Ojca Michała Zielke, Ministra Prowincjalnego Prowincja św. Bonawentura w Chicago. O. Lucjan i my franciszkanie dziękujemy wszystkim lokalnym przywódcom obywatelskim i przywódcom religijnym, duchowieństwu, siostrom i braciom, którzy są tu dzisiaj. Wśród naszych cennych gości tej bazyliki dziś rano są ocalałe polskie sieroty, które O. Lucjan w towarzystwie Syberii i Afryki, a później, podobnie jak Mojżesz, doprowadził do wolności w Kanadzie ponad siedemdziesiąt lat temu. Wszystkim wam mówię: sto tysięcy przyjmuje. Gdyby Ojciec Lucjan był Irlandczykiem, tak jak ja, powiedziałby wam w języku gaelickim: go raibh mile maith agat – Niech będzie wam tysiąc dobroci!}

 

Homily for 100th Birthday of Fr. Łucjan Krolikowski, OFM Conv.
Delivered by Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv.
St. Stanislaus Basilica, Chicopee, Massachusetts
7th September 2019

 [Readings:
Colossians 1:21-23
Matthew 19:23-30]

I begin my homily today in a state of dilemma. Year after year, as we have grown accustomed to celebrating Fr. Łucjan’s birthday, we would always sing to him the great Polish anthem “Sto Lat” – May you live 100 years! Now that you have lived to the age of 100, Fr. Łucjan, what do we sing? Dwiescie lat! – May you live 200 years! Why not? We must put no limits to the Providence of God!!
In a true sense, the theme of Fr. Łucjan’s long life has been precisely that: Put no limits on the Providence of God! Truly it can be said that Divine Providence – God’s love without limits – has scripted life’s journey for our centenarian Fr. Łucjan – from the day he was born in Nowe Kramsko, Poland; through his seminary days at Niepokalanów under the care of St. Maximilian Kolbe; through his exile to Siberia under the Soviet dictator Stalin, through his resettlement in the refugee camps of East Africa; to his heroic itinerary to Canada leading 300 Polish orphans, and during his final decades of Franciscan ministry in the United States. Oh! the wonder of Divine Providence – God’s love without limits!
Several years ago, Fr. Łucjan gave me a photograph taken of himself and his 14 novitiate classmates at on the day of their Simple Profession of Franciscan vows – 80 years ago. Their novitiate took place at Niepokalanów, the famous “City of the Immaculate” near Warsaw, Poland, founded twelve years earlier by St. Maximilian Kolbe. In fact, St. Maximilian Kolbe himself is in the photo of Fr. Łucjan and his classmates. Curiously, the only friar in the photo with a broad smile on his face is our dear Friar Łucjan. Perhaps the others foresaw that World War II would begin three days later in their beloved fatherland of Poland. Nothing, however, could erase the angelic smile from Friar Łucjan’s face on the day of his Franciscan profession of vows!
We call the Franciscan Order the “seraphic” order because an angel seraph had appeared to St. Francis of Assisi in 1224 when he received the holy stigmata, the five wounds of Christ. I think it is fitting that we call Fr. Łucjan’s smile a “seraphic smile” – angelic and peaceful, despite the wounds of war which would soon send him into the exile and peril of Siberia. His “seraphic smile” would become Friar Łucjan’s identity badge, his signature trademark – an emblem of Franciscan joy from deep within amidst all the sufferings, pain, trials, and torments of life. His “seraphic smile” would become Fr. Łucjan’s secret of survival, and his sign of perseverance. Today’s first reading from St. Paul talks of perseverance, and it could well apply to our dear Fr. Łucjan: “You persevered in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard.”
This past week, I have been receiving messages of congratulations for Fr. Łucjan from all over the world. Our Minister General has recognized him as the “Dean of the Order” – the eldest Franciscan Friar Conventual in the world. Some of the other messages came from Niepokalanów in Poland. The Archivist there even found an article written by seminarian Friar Łucjan in 1936 entitled “Mens sana in Corpore Sano” – “A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body.” The article was prompted by a rebellious “hunger strike” that his fellow students in Niepokalanów’s minor seminary staged in protest against the confiscation of their football by the brother in charge of them. Kindly and lovingly the guardian of Niepokalanów, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, defused the adolescent crisis and returned the football to Łucjan and the lads, after the future saint reminded the seminarians that the Blessed Mother needed friars with “healthy minds in healthy bodies” all for the sake of her Son’s Kingdom.
Today’s Gospel passage evokes the image of God’s Kingdom – and who are to be its citizens! Citizenship in the Kingdom of God is no easy feat to attain – more difficult that trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle. The “eye of a needle” refers to the little door that opens through the middle of the large timber gate in the stone fortification walls of ancient Jerusalem. Fr. Łucjan’s lifelong itinerant journey towards claiming eternal citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem is still a work in progress. He continues persevering faithfully towards that goal. Fr. Łucjan is already a citizen of the Republic of Poland and the Dominion of Canada, and he is a permanent resident of the United States of America. However, he would be the first to tell you that the attainment of eternal citizenship in the Kingdom of God is the most difficult of all life’s endeavors. It is a work of grace.
This brings us back to the opening theme of this homiletic reflection: the Friar’s absolute trust in the Providence of God. As today’s Gospel affirms: When a person gives up everything – home, family, comforts, securities – all for the sake of the Kingdom, then God gives him a hundredfold of returns. Today we are celebrating not only the 100 years of Fr. Łucjan’s life, but also the 100-fold of graces, blessings, and love that God has conferred upon him in his Franciscan life – a hundredfold that Fr. Łucjan has generously shared with all of us.
Fr. Łucjan, may Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler considered you the lowest of the low and the last of the last; but Jesus Christ in His Gospel promised that “the last will be first.” Today, even on this side of eternity, God has made you “first” in the hearts of all of us here present. We thank God for your 100 years. We thank God for the hundredfold of blessings that He has bestowed upon you. You have been like a Moses to all of us – leading us with your seraphic smile – and pointing us to the Kingdom of God – the ultimate promised land. I might add that Moses lived to be 120. May you surpass him! Dwiescie lat! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Jubilee of Fr. Łucjan Królikowski.
Speech. Chicopee 7th September 2019
Fr Marian Gołąb, min. prov. Cracow Province 

 I feel deeply moved and honoured to be here today in this community gathered around Father Łucjan Królikowski. At the same time, as a provincial from Kraków, I feel the need and obligation to share with you the reflection that is related to the hundredth anniversary of the birth of our brother.
I want to start with the obvious: expressing gratitude to God for the life and witness of Father Łucjan. Gratitude to God for calling him to the Franciscan Order and to Christ’s priesthood. Gratitude for all the graces that enabled Father Łucjan not only to remain faithful to this calling, but to give it such an extraordinary expression.
None of us has the slightest doubt that God, in the person of Father Łucjan, offered our community an extraordinary gift. A gift of a Polish patriot, a brave soldier, a Catholic priest – the gift of father in the deepest sense of this word, a joyful Franciscan and in all this a beautiful human being whom people and the Church have come to love and desire so much.
Today in the Church a lot is said about the crises of priesthood; there are examples of priestly infidelity and scandals involving clergy made known to the public. In many media and in the minds of many people, the clerical collar has become a symbol of harm done to children. In this dramatic context, we can and should show the world today the example of someone who fulfilled his calling in the deepest sense, who became for many young people a real father, a real gift of himself.
I think it is not necessary to convince anyone here how much we need this example of Father Łucjan today. The Church needs such an example; who once in the person of Saint Francis saw someone who could lift her from ruins and rebuild her again. To rebuild the church today means to restore her integrity, lost by the sinfulness of unfaithful priests. How to do that? We cannot find any other way than personal testimony of a faithful life. Such a testimony of life that the saints have left us and a testimony of life that Father Łucjan has been giving us.
Thanks be to God that he allowed Fr. Łucjan to live with us today, because precisely at this moment his testimony has special significance. He reveals to us with great beauty the best answer to our dramatic dilemmas.
For this reason, we pray to the Mother of God that she would intercede for many more years of faithful and fruitful life for Father Łucjan . And for this reason, as well, I would like to give our birthday brother a gift whose meaning does not need to be explained to anyone. Here is a picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa – the same one who accompanied and still accompanies Polish itinerants in all parts of the world. I chose it also because when I used to work as a missionary in Uganda, I often visited the village Nabyeya where the former camp of Polish exiles was located, who like Father Łucjan and his charges, came there from Siberia and waited there for the possibility of returning to Poland. Today a small cemetery and the church of Our Lady of Częstochowa, which they built, remains after them. May Our Lady of Częstochowa look after you dear Father Łucjan .
As a Provincial from our Kraków Province, I would like to express my gratitude. In a special way to Father Provincial James McCurry, who invited me for this ceremony. Father Łucjan’s birthday reminds us of the close relationships between our provincial fraternities. These relationships today have a very specific dimension that can be described as “fraternal solidarity.” At one time, in the name of this fraternal solidarity, Father Łucjan, as a member of the Polish province, found his new home in the American province. Here he could serve as a religious priest and here today we celebrate with him his hundredth birthday. Nowadays, the American province has become a place of service for others younger confreres from Krakow, and the missions carried out by Krakow still have economic support provided by the province. Father James, thank you so much!
Thank you also for enabling the publication of the most important books of Father Łucjan in Poland. On this occasion, a publisher of our Province in Krakow printed a special birthday version of his memoirs and I would like to present them to you. I would be honoured if Mr. General Consul and fr Provincial accept such a gift as well.
I thank everyone involved in this momentous occasion and each of you present here from the bottom of my heart for your thoughtfulness and kindness.  Once again I greet everyone. May I wish you all such a hundredth birthday. God bless you and Sto Lat!

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