If Bishop-elect Slawomir Szkredka has learned one lesson from life until now, what would it be?
His answer is simple. “What God wants me to do, he’ll have to do it.”
Up until a few weeks ago, that sense of reliance on God’s plan — rather than his own efforts or capabilities — had worked out pretty well for “Father Swavek.” Over two decades of priesthood, the native of Poland has earned the affection of parishioners from Fillmore to Santa Fe Springs, two doctorate degrees, and the gratitude of the newest generation of LA priests.
Now, it’s apparently gotten the attention of Pope Francis, too.
The 49-year-old priest got word of his appointment as an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles while on a four-day walking pilgrimage through southern Poland to the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Szkredka said that pilgrimage — and a subsequent one days later to the Holy Land — gave him plenty of opportunities to pray, reflect, and recover from the shock of the news.
Born in 1974 to a Catholic family in the town of Czechowice-Dziedzice, Szkredka grew up in the nearby city of Bielsko-Biała during the final years of Poland’s Communist rule. At 15, his father, Kazimierz, died of a sudden heart attack, leaving Szkredka behind with his mother and younger sister. His grandparents and uncles stayed close after the tragedy.
“As painful as it was to lose my father, God supplied good people immediately, and the family felt supported,” remembered Szkredka.
Szkredka said he has felt called to be a priest for as long as he can remember. He became an altar server after his first Communion, all the way through elementary and high school until entering the seminary at 20.
“I’m still at the altar,” he said with a laugh in an interview.
His first four years of studies for the priesthood were spent at the same seminary in the city of Kraków where the future Pope John Paul II once studied. While in the library one day, Szkredka came across an article in an English-language newspaper written by someone named Sister Kathleen Bryant. Beneath her name was her title, which he didn’t understand, and an email address.
It was the mid-1990s, and the young seminarian had recently opened his first email account. So Szkredka decided on a whim to write her an email. The sister wrote back, and the two began a correspondence. Bryant, it turned out, was the vocations director at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and eventually offered to sponsor him as a future priest for LA….
From Angelus News