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Pioneer Polish Missionary to Indonesia dies at 88

Father Jan Olęcki, SVD

The Divine Word Father Jan Olęcki, one of the Polish pioneer missionaries to Indonesia, passed away in Poland on November 4 at the age of 88.

On July 29, 1965, Father Olecki was sent to Indonesia along with a group of missionaries. The Polish government permitted the first group of missionaries to leave the nation after the war.

The priest was born in Mroczno, Poland, on December 3, 1934, to farmers Jozef and Mariana.

In 1949, he went to the Minor Theological Seminary in Górna Grupa, and in 1952, he went to St. Cross in Nysa to become a religious novice. 

In 1953, he studied philosophy and theology at the Missionary Theological Seminary of the Divine Word Missionaries in Pienino, and on December 18, 1960, he was ordained a deacon. His ordination as a priest occurred on January 29, 1961.

Later, he was named rector of the Minor Seminary in Kisol, Flores, Indonesia. From 1974 to 1978, he taught Latin, German, and religion there. After 1978, he dedicated himself to pastoral service.

In 2012, he returned to Poland.

Father Olęcki will be laid to rest at the religious cemetery at the Mission House of St. Joseph, Poland. 

Piet Sambut, one of Father Olęcki’s students at the minor seminary who was taught Latin by him, recalled him as a good, disciplined, and pious instructor.

"Father Olęcki placed great emphasis on the correctness of Latin sentence structure and modifications, particularly the plural form, then on the sense of the phrase,” Sambut said.

"Father Olęcki was a very diligent educator,” said Sambut, adding that “when he teaches, even upon entering the classroom, pupils are not permitted to speak, whisper, or turn left or right." 

“He was a pastor in service and spent all of his free time praying, especially the Rosary. He continued to pray the Rosary even as he watched seminarians take exams or tests,” Sambut recalled.

"He keeps praying the rosary even as he walks through alleys or rides a bike," Sambut concluded. - Kasmir Nema


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