Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
October 10, 2001
Calgary priest dies while sailing in Poland
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
CALGARY — Father Adam Barcz, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Polish Roman Catholic Parish in Calgary, died Aug. 1 at the age of 42.
Father Adam died after suffering a massive heart attack while sailing and approaching port in his home harbour of Szczecin, Poland.
All who met Father Adam were drawn in by his openness to others, his deep spirituality — from the first meeting he could interest and inspire the person he was talking with, whether young or old.
He brought to each discussion an atmosphere of mutual respect, even for divergent views, as well as his personal charisma.
Lapsed Catholics returned to their faith, and all of us were strengthened by his homilies, which took the Gospel and brought it into our current lives, drawing from each episode something to strive for, something concrete to improve on.
Each exhortation was always finished with: "I wish this for myself, and I wish it for all of you."
Father Adam's sermons were a deep source of religious instruction — on one occasion people spontaneously burst into applause at the end of his homily. He was also interested in everything we did, in new groups forming within the parish, in their aims.
He was an inspirational leader of our John Paul II Polish School, of which he was the principal. Imbued with seemingly boundless energy, he followed his passion to work with the young, to help them set and achieve goals, and was able to attract them to participate fully in parish life.
Last year he was thrilled to see over 50 young people from our parish leave for Rome, for World Youth Day with Pope John Paul. This year Father Adam had already begun to prepare the youth to participate in World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto.
He felt as much at ease with them on the hiking trail as discussing any topic of their choosing with them.
He approached everyone with incomparable good will, and he will remain in our minds and hearts as a man of God, whom we were fortunate to know for two brief years.
Adam Barcz was born in Resko, near Szczecin, Poland in 1959, the second youngest in a family of nine children. His parents imbued their children with a strong faith in God, respect for all people, a love of learning and a strong work ethic.
Father Adam recounted how his Christmas presents from his earliest years were books — and how at first he hated this, but by the time he was a teenager he was disappointed if he didn't get books as presents.
He read voraciously, and his parents were careful to feed him epics of Polish literature, great poetry and works of unquestioned value.
Other than reading, young Adam from an early age had two other passions — scouting and sailing. His family moved to Szczecin when he was 11, thus giving him an ideal place to pursue the sport as this city has a harbour.
He served as a crew member or captain on teams that won national yachting championships.
In one race, Father Adam recounted, they encountered a very bad storm — the young Adam made a promise to God that if they returned safely he would become a priest. They returned safely.
In 1979, Adam entered the seminary of the Society of Christ. Throughout his years of study, he pursued his work with young people on the high seas as captain and scoutmaster.
On May 20, 1986, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Stanislaw Napierala, having finished a degree of master of theology prior to this.
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