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Father Raymond Borkowski, OFM Conv.
Spiritual Testimony ~ November, 2019
Hello, my name is Raymond Borkowski. I am an 83 years-old Conventual Franciscan Priest in the Our Lady of Angels Province (USA). I am retired but I am active saying Mass, hearing confessions, participating in the RCIA program and church decorating at St. Paul Friary, Kensington, CT.
I was born in SCRANTION PA – July 30, 1936 and I grew up in THROOP PA. My Father, Henry Borkowski, was born in Poland, came to USA when he was eleven years old. Mother, Margaret Purta, was born in USA ; her parents were both born in Poland but met in USA. I have had one sister, Dorothy, two years older than I am. I attended the parish elementary school and St. Paul High School in Scranton. My father died when I was three years old. Mother worked in a sewing factory to support my sister and me. Father had died prior to social security. We lived across the street from the church and I volunteered for all kinds of help around the church.
Franciscan OFM Conv Friars from the former St. Anthony Province frequently came to the Parish Church to assist at Forty Hours Devotion and Parish Missions. Eventually four young men from the parish entered the Order. They all seemed happy and fulfilled in their vocation and provided a fine example which influenced me in my vocational discernment.
I entered the Order immediately following high school graduation at Becket, Massachusetts in 1953 with Fr. Cornelian Dende, OFM Conv. as my Novice Master. Fr. Cornelian came from Scranton PA and was one of the Friars who had assisted at my home parish of St. Anthony in Throop.
My Novitiate classmates were: Fr. Donald Kos, Stan Giermek, Ed Staniewicz and Richard Michanski. I made Simple Profession in 1954 and Solemn Vows in 1957. Donald and I were ordained in Rome in 1961. We had had the good fortune to be in St. Peter Square for the election of Pope St. John XXIII and in the Basilica for his Coronation Mass. While in Rome, I studied Theology at the Seraphicum and received the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) in 1962.
I returned to the States in 1962 and my first assignment was as a faculty member at Cardinal O’Hara High School in Tonawanda NY. During this time, I completed graduate studies at Canisius College and was awarded a Master’s degree in Education.
In 1967, I was assigned to St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in Granby MA as a faculty member and spiritual director for the student friars. In 1971 I was appointed assistant novice director at St. Joseph Cupertino Novitiate in Ellicott City, MD and then Province vocation director. In 1979,
I returned to St. Hyacinth in Granby as Guardian of the community and as Director of the student friars. During this time, I also was elected for a three-year term to serve as a member of the provincial definitory (council).
In 1985, I was assigned as pastor for St. Stanislaus Church in Trenton, NJ. In 1988, I discerned a Missionary Vocation following a visit to our Province Mission in Ghana, West Africa. While in Ghana, I served several different ministries: on the faculty of St. Paul Regional Seminary in Accra and Guardian and Director of formation for the local Friars, as Chaplain to Poor Clare Nuns, as a Chaplain in Prison Ministry, and as founder of a new Diocesan Parish in the Archdiocese of Accra.
Upon my return to the USA in 1995, I became the first Franciscan Pastor of St. John Parish in Cromwell CT in the Diocese of Norwich where I remained for fifteen years. In 2010, I was assigned as Parochial Vicar at St. Paul Parish in Kensington.
I equally enjoyed all of my multiple and varied ministries. Each of them placed me in a strong supportive Franciscan community where I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamism of youthful communities, vibrant with Franciscan fervor and zeal in serving God’s people. I especially enjoyed the rhythm of the liturgical seasons, each with their particular devotional thrust.
One particular devotion which influenced my personal spirituality is Our Lady of Lourdes, especially because there, our Lady smiled, asked for prayer and penance, and accentuated her unique identity as the Immaculate Conception which is so central to our Franciscan Spirituality.
Advice to our Friars in Formation: “Always look forward and if you must look backward (rear view mirror) look only to avoid future mistakes. Place all your trust in the Lord.”