Time marches on. I turned 53 last January 1st and almost half of this life I spent in service of the Lord as His ordained priest. My road to priesthood was unique as all of them are. I was born and raised with my two sisters, Maria and Danuta, in a small town, Sokolow Malopolski, in Poland. I was baptized there on the 8th day after my birth, and completed the Sacraments of Initiation there in elementary school.
Before finishing the local high school, I encountered a most unique personal spiritual experience which marked my life forever. I felt compelled to pray intensely for a few days during which time I heard a clear voice telling me that I will be a priest, my life will not be easy, but He will be always with me to help me. I knew in my heart it was Jesus calling me. I dropped my other, not so clearly defined yet, plans and entered the seminary in the city of Przemysl on the eastern border of Poland. After four years there I was called yet once again, less directly, to leave Poland and to continue the seminary formation in the U.S. I came to the SS. Cyril and Methodius Polish Seminary in Orchard Lake, MI, in the fall of 1989. This October will mark my 30 years of living in the U.S.
After two years spent mostly studying English at the beautiful seminary campus at Orchard Lake, I was invited to come visit the Diocese of Buffalo for the summer of 1991. I spent it at St. Hedwig’s parish in the quiet and beautiful town of Dunkirk with Msgr. Thomas Crane as a pastor and with Felician Sisters living at the parish. The experience was great and I decided to transfer to Christ the King Seminary in the fall of 1991 to continue studies and priestly formation. All went well and I was ordained as a transitional Deacon by Bishop Edward Head in 1993. Bishop Head also ordained me a priest on July 9th, 1994, at Our Lady of Czestochowa (OLC) in North Tonawanda. In those days, the custom was that priests had a choice to be ordained in their home or otherwise parishes close to their hearts. I spent a summer assignment at OLC as a seminarian with Fr. Louis Dolinic as a Pastor, who graciously invited me back to have the ordination Mass there.
After graduation from the seminary and ordination to diaconate Bishop Head appointed me to my first parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Niagara Falls, where I served one year as a deacon and then continued for another year as a priest, with Msgr. Edward Scanlon as a pastor. I remember it fondly as an easy transition to priestly ministry.
In 1995, I was appointed as a Parochial Vicar at a very large parish, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, in Orchard Park, where I spend seven years, greatly growing in my pastoral and sacramental experience, and polishing my English and enculturation skills. Then I felt it was time to move on to another parish to get more experience which would still prepare me for pastorate. The Bishop assigned me to Queen of Heaven Parish in West Seneca with Fr. Thomas Quinlivan as pastor. It was also at that time in 2003 when I became a naturalized U.S. Citizen.
I remember all my priest assignments as parochial vicar, with the people and experiences very warmly. After a bit over two years at Queen of Heaven I felt I was ready to ask for the first pastorate and I was assigned to Most Precious Blood parish with an elementary school in Angola. Five years later, in 2005, Bishop Edward Kmiec called me in to offer a new pastoral assignment at a recently merged parish in Dunkirk, which suddenly had an opening and no priests interested in going there. I took it and six and a half years later I went for my first Sabbatical time away from the parish ministry. I went to visit and study all the sites connected with the Divine Mercy in Poland and Lithuania and also to briefly study Spanish language in Cusco, Peru. From there I learned about the opening at Blessed Sacrament parish in Tonawanda and I applied for it. It was a natural fit given my personal devotion to Divine Mercy, which was also being so strongly cultivated here since the former pastor Msgr. Robert Golombek started it almost three decades ago.
I feel at home here at Blessed Sacrament surrounded by lots of wonderful faithful people giving themselves so generously to the service to the Church. I feel blessed by Msgr. Leo McCarthy living at the rectory with me, by the wonderful parish Staff and all the Volunteers keeping this parish such a beautiful albeit still a bit hidden gem in Tonawanda.
I feel especially blessed by God who found me worthy to be His priest and blessed with all the wonderful people of faith God has put in the path of my life and ministry. I am very grateful for the prayers, cards, anniversary gifts, and most of all for your friendship. Some things last forever. Know that I keep you all in my daily prayers and at the same time I ask for your prayers for me and all priests, deacons and bishops, especially now as we have entered a new, more challenging time for the Church, our country, and the world. I am looking forward to serving the People of God in His Church for another 25 years and beyond, always seeking to do His will. Jesus, I trust in You!
Fr. Matt Mieczyslaw Nycz