Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 15, 2007
Brilliant psychiatrist and Polish patriot dies
Dr. Henry Wojcicki established two hospital psychiatric departments and was fast friends with Pope John Paul II
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"He was a very good psychiatrist who introduced some techniques that were common in Europe.
- Archbishop MacNeil
Wojcicki was responsible for the establishment of the departments of psychiatry at both the Edmonton General and Misericordia hospitals. He lobbied and received approval for these hospitals to provide accredited training for psychiatric residency.
He maintained several senior level appointments at hospitals in Edmonton, including chief of service at the Misericordia, chief of the department of psychiatry at the Edmonton General, coordinator of the psychiatric outpatient program at the Grey Nuns and clinical professor at the Faculty of Medicine's department of psychiatry at the University of Alberta.
He played a major role in the creation of the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC). In the later years of his career he used his wealth of experience to serve as a member of the Alberta Board of Review and the Mental Health Review Panel.
"I met him when he was very young and very active, not long after he came," recalled MacNeil.
"He was a very good psychiatrist who introduced (in Canada) some techniques that were common in Europe; he was able to use them and establish them here and it was great for young people who needed to be in psychiatric care.
"He was wonderful and was always very willing to give his services. He was also very concerned about the poor and was a very good supporter of Catholic Social Services."
In 1970, Wojcicki received international recognition for his efforts in humanitarianism and charitable work when he received a papal knighthood as commander of the Order of St. Sylvester. An appointment to the University of Alberta Senate followed in 1983 and he served two consecutive terms.
For his continuous work in multiculturalism and health services in Canada he was awarded the Order of Canada in 1989.
Throughout his life Wojcicki was a prominent member of the Polish community. He served as president of the Canadian-Polish Congress (Alberta Branch) from 1965 to 1967 and 1977 to 1981.
He also served as a member of the Canadian Council of Multiculturalism from 1970 to 1973 and was chairman of the biennial national convention of the Canadian-Polish Congress in 1966, 1982 and 1988.
Wojcicki was selected to be the driver and companion of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla on his visit to Edmonton in 1969. The two formed an instant connection and continued their friendship over the years.
MacNeil knew of their friendship and when the pope came to Edmonton in 1984 he asked Wojcicki and his wife, as previously mentioned, to present the gifts at the papal Mass.
"They were friends so it seemed the sensible thing to do," recalled MacNeil. "He was an extremely good Catholic. He was a wonderful human being, a very gracious and generous man who lived his faith and was true to his faith and true to his Polish origin. And I consider that we were good friends."
Father Jozef Wroblewski officiated at a funeral Mass for Wojcicki Jan. 6 at St. John the Evangelist Church.
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.