Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
June 11, 2001
A Pilgrim's progress
Sobkowicz ordained after 4 years of adapting to Canadian Church
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — The journey to the altar of priesthood might be long and tedious, but it sure was worth it for Father Jan Sobkowicz, who was ordained a priest by Archbishop Thomas Collins, June 4 at St. Joseph's Basilica.
Those who know the 43-year-old native of Poland say he has worked hard to learn English and to adapt to a new culture.
He is the first of as many as four more priests who may be ordained for the Edmonton Archdiocese in the next year.
Sobkowicz, an only son and originally from Lancut, southeastern Poland, moved to Canada and joined the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1997.
After finishing the pre-novitiate program with the Oblates, his discernment led him to apply as a candidate for the priesthood with the archdiocese.
Before moving to Canada, Sobkowicz had a degree in theology.
To provide him with a better grasp and understanding of ministry in Western Canada, he took pastoral theology courses at Newman Theological College and St. Joseph's Seminary.
While Sobkowicz declined to be interviewed by the WCR, others sang his praises.
Father Luc Bouchard, seminary rector, said Sobkowicz has the heart and the mind of a true pastor, being compassionate, respectful and sensitive to others.
"He is a man of strong faith, open to the Spirit, has a deep personal prayer life and love of the Eucharist," added Bouchard.
The seminary formation team also observes that he is goal oriented and yet at the same time a team player.
Prior to his ordination, Sobkowicz, spent a year of pastoral internship in two parishes, OLPH, Sherwood Park and Sacred Heart, Red Deer, under the mentorship of Father Don Stein.
"I found him to be really open to the spirit of priesthood in Western Canada," said Stein when interviewed by the WCR before the ordination liturgy.
Stein said Sobkowicz tries hard to adapt to the Canadian Church and to understand the needs of the people.
Parishioners from OLPH and Sacred Heart noticed the growth and the good qualities of Sobkowicz as a future pastor.
According to Stein, the newly ordained priest uses his gifts with young people and elderly alike, a solid reason why he is well liked by the people he serves in the parish.
"He is very loving and very supportive. He calls me the angel-reader," said Jessica Lamb, 16, lector from Sacred Heart.
"What I admire most about Father Jan is his being genuine and gentle," shared Maureen Miller, music minister from Sacred Heart.
"It's been a really warm experience having him in our parish and it's really enlightening to see his growth," added Eillen Lamb.
Sobkowicz has come a long way. He did not speak English until he came to Canada.
"By nature he is quite reserved but we were able to see him grow and break through that shell," said Stein.
Father Jan is now able to express his own feelings and his own personality, which is really difficult coming from his background, said Stein.
"What is impressive about Father Jan is his sincerity. He is so focused to learn English," shared Mary Lou Hayes, former seminary secretary.
"Father Jan will be a holy and zealous priest," said Arlan Parenteau, one of the senior seminarians of the archdiocese.
Being an only son, his father's death in December 1998 came as a serious blow for the family. However, it did not hinder him from fulfilling his life's goal.
All the positive comments about Sobkowicz were verified by the good turnout at his ordination.
Half of the ordination attendees came from Sacred Heart, Red Deer. OLPH and St. Theresa Parish in Edmonton were well represented while 62 priests were present.
Sobkowicz will serve as associate pastor in Sacred Heart until December 2001. Effective January 1, 2002, he will be the associate pastor of St. Theresa Parish.
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