Summary of today’s show: There aren’t many priests in the Archdiocese of Boston who can say they felt the call to the priesthood in Blessed John Paul’s native Poland and none as young as Fr. Adrian Milik. Born in Poland, but raised in the United States from eight years old, Fr. Milik was studying in Krakow when John Paul II died and it was then that the Holy Spirit called him to become a priest in Boston. Fr. Milik joins Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor to talk about his first three weeks as a priest, the whirlwind that he’s been in since the Ordination Mass, and the experience of bring the sacraments to the people for the first time.
Listen to the show:
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor
Today’s guest(s): Fr. Adrian Milik
Today’s topics: New Priest Profile: Fr. Adrian Milik
1st segment: Scot and Fr. Chris caught up on their time off last week for the Independence Day holiday and their plans for the summer.
Today’s guest is Fr. Adrian Milik, newly ordained just last month by Cardinal Seán. Fr. Chris noted that Fr. Adrian has a Polish background like himself. Scot said he’s been assigned to St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in East Bridgewater.
2nd segment: Scot welcomed Fr. Adrian to the show. He asked Fr. Adrian how his first few weeks have been. Fr. Adrian said he moved in to the parish the week after the ordination, met the pastor and parish, and still had many family and friends in town for the ordination.
Fr. Chris walked through all the various elements of the busy week surrounding ordination from the rehearsal on Thursday before to reporting to the parish the following Thursday.
Fr. Adrian said what stood out for him was the moment his hands were anointed by Cardinal Seán and being told that they have been set aside for sacred things. It means everything you do know is different. They talked about the custom of giving the cloth used to wipe the oil on the priests’ hands to their mothers for them to be buried with as a sign that they gave birth not just to a son, but also gave to the Church a priest. Fr. Adrian said it’s part of the symbolism that the priest conveys something of God to the people. Fr. Chris said priests also give their first confessional stole to their fathers. Fr. Adrian said he gave these items to his parents before they went back to Poland.
Fr. Adrian said he really felt God’s presence during the Mass, even when trying to make sure he had the right response for his part. He felt like he was being led, like God was in control.
Scot another elements that stands out is the number of hugs given by all the priests in the cathedral at the sign of peace, the laying on of hands, and after the Mass. Fr. Adrian said he was surprised by the manner in which each priest lays hands on the heads was so different from one to another priest and reflected their personality. The same way with the sign of peace.
Fr. Adrian said the moment when the cardinal receives the blessing and kisses his hands was odd at first, but very moving and an indicator of the change of reality in him.
Scot asked about his first two Masses, concelebrating the rest of the ordination Mass and then his first Mass the next day. Fr. Adrian say when praying the Mass for the first time as a priest and surrounded by other priests, he felt their support for him. It was a powerful experience that didn’t sink in at the time.
His first Mass was at St. Eulalia in Winchester, which was his parents’ parish for many years. They started the Mass with incense and he also decided to use the sprinkling rite for the beginning of Mass. While he was going through the church with the water, the thurible was in the sacristy with a very low ceiling and that caused the fire alarms to go off. The pastor made an announcement to ask everyone to evacuate until after the firefighters cleared the building. They were able to get back in the church after a few minutes. They didn’t use incense the rest of the Mass. Fortunately, it eased some of the tension he’d been feeling.
On Friday before the ordination, he received his first assignment from Cardinal Seán at a dinner for ordinandi. Fr. Adrian said each man met with the cardinal in his office after dinner. They went in one by one and received the envelope with their assignment. He said he spoke to the cardinal about the assignment, that he’d heard a lot of good things about the parish and they discussed the presence of Bridgewater State College. He encouraged Fr. Adrian.
Fr. Chris asked his sense of the parish. Fr. Adrian said it’s a very warm parish and the people have been generous in welcoming him and inviting him and the pastor and the seminarian there for the summer into their homes. Fr. Chris asked if his expectations of priesthood were different from the reality. Fr. Adrian said he’s surprised by how natural it feels. He’s not nervous in celebrating Mass nor is he nervous in being in a new place. He’s had an opportunity to celebrate Mass in a number of places in that first week after ordination, so it’s been an opportunity to learn and grow.
Scot asked if he feels pressure to learn all the names. Fr. Adrian said he’s not particularly good at learning names, so he’s trying to do his best. He’s been grateful that they’ve been so understanding.
Fr. Chris said one of the first Masses for the newly ordained is at Regina Cleri, the home for retired priests and those in physical or other rehabilitation. He was happy to be with these men who have given so much and are examples of faithful service to the people of Boston. There’s something great about being in a full chapel with everyone who is concelebrating the Mass together. They also had lunch with them after and they talked about the changes they’ve seen in their lives and the accumulated wisdom they’ve gathered.
Fr. Adrian said his father is a quiet person, but his mother is more demonstrative and both showed how proud they are of him. His mother had a lot of good advice for him and his father said a lot through a couple of words and a hug. His mother was very glad to be able to be there and not just speak to him about the priesthood, but also to say goodbye to Boston and to give him to Boston.
3rd segment: Scot asked Fr. Adrian when he first had a sense he had calling. When he was 8, his dad got a job in San Diego and they were parishioners at Our Mother of Confidence Parish. He was a regular Mass-goer but he hadn’t yet owned his own faith. When he was in the confirmation program, the youth minister conducted a retreat. Fr. Adrian was saying some prayers and felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in him that immobilized him. He talked to God and felt God’s presence in him. He felt peace and direction in his heart. That was a life changing moment in which he realized God wasn’t a concept, but is a Person. His faith came alive after that. His prayer was no longer a series of negotiations, but a real conversation.
When he was in college, he was invited to a Come-and-See Day for the Diocese of San Diego at the seminary. It felt right, but he wasn’t quite ready at that point. After he graduated college, he went back to Poland to do his Master’s degree at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, where Pope John Paul II was a college student before World War II. Fr. Chris talked about the depth of the expression of Catholic faith in Krakow and how the presence of John Paul II is felt there. Fr. Adrian said he was in Krakow when John Paul died in 2005. The university cancelled classes for the week. The street in front of the archbishop’s house was completely covered in candles. They talked about other ways t he love for John Paul expressed itself, including soccer hooligans who would normally be at each others’ throats, standing arm in arm.
Fr. Adrian said his experience there at the time was definitely an influence in pushing him forward on the way to the priesthood. He said when he was in San Diego, he wasn’t in a particularly Catholic environment, which made it difficult to hear his call as he was distracted by his surroundings. Meanwhile, in Krakow most of his friends were involved in Catholic student groups and it was a very different environment that was very much shaped by John Paul II. He recalls that the Sunday Masses at the church would be filled 15 minutes before it began and people would be lined up outside the door.
Meanwhile, his parents had moved to Boston for work. So he started to pray about what to do when he finished his Master’s degree. At the time in Krakow he went to see a French monk speak about being open to the Holy Spirit. He shared his experience of the truth of the Holy Spirit he knew, so Fr. Adrian prayed about where God was calling him to experience the truth in his life. At the time he was thinking about going for a PhD in history or looking for a job in the US. Those options left him unease and anxiety, but he prayed about applying to seminary, there was just peace. He spoke to both San Diego and Boston dioceses, and felt God calling him to Boston.
Fr. Chris said every priest preaches one homily, just in different ways. He asked Fr. Adrian what is his one homily. Fr. Adrian said he tends to go back to God’s love and mercy and the importance of the sacraments, especially Confession. In Krakow, he regularly visited the Divine Mercy shrine and that Divine Mercy has been present throughout his life. We need to remember that God loves and forgives us so much. He’s already been able to hear confessions at his new parish.
Fr. Adrian said St. Thomas has Masses at 7am and 9am during the week; on Saturday at 4pm; and on Sunday, 7:45, 10am, and noon Mass. Also St. Basil Chapel at 10am at Bridgewater State college. The noon Mass is the Life Teen Mass. During the school year, there is an evening Mass at St. Basil’s.