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​Father Kazimierz Oleksy, SDS, dies May 4

May 18, 2021 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper

Topics: Vocations

Father Kazimierz Oleksy, SDS, dies May 4

Father Kazimierz Oleksy was born on Dec. 1, 1966 in Krakow. He grew up, along with his brother and sister, in the home of Stanisław and Czesława Smoleń in Biskupice Radłowskie. He was baptized in his family parish on Dec. 18, 1966. The atmosphere of the family home and the example of the older brother, Father Stanisław Oleksy, a Salvatorian, resulted in Kazimierz’ strong connection with the Church from childhood. After Holy Communion, which he received in 1974, he served in his home parish as an altar boy, and as a lector from the seventh grade of primary school. After completing primary school in 1981 in Biskupice Radłowskie, he continued his high school education in Radłów. On April 30, 1980, he received the sacrament of Christian maturity (confirmation) in his home parish. In the second year of high school, he established a closer contact with the Salvatorians by participating in retreats and days of spirituality conducted by the Salvatorian Vocation Center.

After completing high school, he decided to enter the Salvatorian novitiate in Bagno, Poland. On June 1, 1985, he made an application, which was approved by the Provincial Council on June 12, 1985. He came, with other candidates, to Bagno, Poland on Aug. 29, 1985, and after the retreat, he was admitted to the novitiate on Sept. 7, 1985. On Sept. 8, 1986, he made his first profession in Bagno. Then, from 1986 to 1992, he studied at the Salvatorian Major Seminary in Bagno. According to his educators, Kazimierz was a contagious spark of energy for his fellow alumni and displayed exceptional organizational skills. The most common opinions about him are firmness and consistency in pursuing his chosen goal. Resulting in his participation the seminary group of seminarians with their professor, Father Antoni Kiełbasa, SDS, under whose supervision he wrote and defended his master’s thesis on the publishing activity of Salvatorians among the Polish diaspora in the United States. During his studies, he strengthened his choice of vocation and on Sept. 8, 1990, he joined the Society of the Divine Savior for his entire life, by taking his perpetual vows in Bagno. During this period, it signaled his willingness to undertake pastoral work among the Polish diaspora in America. He also expressed his readiness to undertake specialized studies in the history of the Church.

He was ordained deacon by Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, on June 26, 1991 at the parish church in Bagno. At the end of the seminar studies, Deacon Kazimierz Oleksy was sent to pastoral practice from March 4 to April 26, 1992 in the parish of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bagno. He was ordained a priest on May 8, 1992 by Bishop Gerard Bernacki in Bielsko-Biała, Poland. The favorable opinion of Father Piotr Mazurek, SDS, from Bagno probably contributed to the decision of the Provincial Council of June 4, 1992. On the basis of this decision, the neo-presbyter, Kazimierz Oleksy, was sent to his first pastoral mission in the parish of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bagno. He was entrusted with the duties of a vicar at the local parish. During this period, Father Kazimierz signaled to his superiors that he wanted to continue his education through specialized studies in the history of the Church. His superiors allowed him to study the history of the Church at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wrocław, Poland, in conjunction with the duties entrusted to him as a vicar in Bagno. Two years later, in a letter dated April 30, 1994, he again asked his superiors to undertake full-time history studies. In response, his superiors instructed him to continue his undergraduate studies in Wrocław.

Another pastoral assignment for Father Kazimierz was a religious community in Trzebnica, where from July 1, 1995, he was entrusted with the duties of vicar in the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the High Church in Poland. After a year, Father Kazimierz asked his superiors for permission to travel and serve in the United States. This request was approved on April 26, 1996 and Father Kazimierz started the procedure of obtaining a visa and other documentation needed to travel overseas.

Under the decree of June 7, 1996, Father Kazimierz Oleksy was directed to the community in St. Hedwig. Until the Visa was processed and the necessary documentation was completed, he was transferred to the community in Kraków-Zakrzówek. However, after some time, due to the personal needs of the Canadian region, Father Kazimierz Oleksy was eventually sent to Vancouver, where he was to learn about the specifics of pastoral ministry in the country of the maple leaf. In January 1997, Bishop Paul O’Byrne, the ordinary of Calgary, officially invited Father Kazimierz to work in his diocese. Under the decree of Feb. 19, 1997, Father Kazimierz was transferred from Krakow to Vancouver. Under the decree of May 15, 2002, Father Kazimierz was sent to Port Alberni in the Diocese of Victoria, where he was entrusted with the duties of administrator of the Holy Family/Notre Dame Parish.

After seven years of pastoral ministry in Canada, Father Kazimierz asked his superiors for permission to transfer the Polish Province of the Salvatorians from the Canadian Region to the American Region. According to his letter in April 6, 2004, his motivation was his desire to combine parish work with continuing his studies in the history of the Church. By a decree of superiors, from July 1, 2004, Father Kazimierz was transferred to the American Region. There he was entrusted, from Aug. 1, 2004, with the duties of the parish priest in Holy Trinity in Falls City. After two years of service, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, in consultation with the religious superiors, appointed Father Kazimierz the administrator of the parish of St. Matthew in Jourdanton and St. Ignatius Martyr in Christine. By virtue of the decree of Nov. 8, 2006, he was promoted to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. He also signaled his willingness to appoint him pastor after serving a trial period in these parishes.

By the decree of the ordinary of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, on April 20, 2007, Father Kazimierz Oleksy was appointed pastor of the parish of St. Matthew in Jourdanton. His duties were entrusted to him on June 1, 2007, for a period of six years. The provincial council, during the consultation on May 22, 2015, decided to entrust Father Kazimierz as the consultor of the community in Texas. It was quite a difficult period for Father Oleksy, who struggled with major health problems, during which he was close to death. And then he was touched by the sudden death of his older brother, Father Stanisław Oleksy, SDS, who suddenly ended his earthly pilgrimage on June 16, 2015 in Kosciusko. In 2018, the provincial consultant again entrusted Father Kazimierz as community consultor in Texas.

Father Kazimierz Oleksy will remain in the memory of his confreres as an extremely cheerful, kind, and energetic priest. He was an extremely original and at the same time disciplined and substantively a perfectly prepared catechist. The passion for history, instilled in him during his studies by the Father A. Kiełbasa, SDS, made itself apparent when he reacted energetically, often commenting and inquiring about scans of documents and archival photos published on the virtual version of the provincial archive in Krakow.

Father Kazimierz Oleksy completed his earthly pilgrimage on May 4, 2021 in New Jersey. He died at the age of 55, at the age of 35 as a religious, and at the age of 29 as a priest.

On May 10 a memorial Mass was held for Father Oleksy at St. Matthew’s in Jourdanton, with 150 attending, including 14 priests and Bishop Emeritus John Yanta of the Diocese of Amarillo. Funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of Consolation Parish in Brooklyn -- a Salvatorian church -- and burial will be held in Poland.