Polish Refugees in New Zealand 1944-1951

Polish Church

Polish Church

Polish Church

Krystyna Skwarko: A year after the closing of the girls’ and boys’ boarding houses Father Dr L. Broel-Plater, the Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in New Zealand, left for Europe. His place was taken by a Dominican priest, Father S.L. Huzarski, who had moved down to Wellington from Auckland where he had been living for a couple of years.

In 1967 he was transferred back to Adelaide. As a result Father Bronislaw Wegrzyn M.A., the only one of the Polish refugee children to join the priesthood, took on some of the pastoral work. But he was appointed to a New Zealand parish after finishing his studies in Italy and the immense amount of work in his own church did not leave him much time to work among the Polish people. Yet he managed to say Mass for the Poles in Wellington once a month, to hear confessions and to visit the Polish families in other cities and towns twice a year.

After the departure of Father Huzarski a Committee for Pastoral Affairs was formed consisting of the representatives of all the Polish organisations in New Zealand. Dr Wodzicki, frequently referred to as “the spiritual leader of the Poles”, was elected chairman.

The Committee appealed to Cardinal McKeefry in Wellington to establish a Polish chaplaincy for New Zealand. This was agreed by the New Zealand Bishops.

When Bishop W. Rubin visited New Zealand in April, 1966, he promised to ask the Polish Primate, Cardinal Wyszynski, to designate a priest. The long-awaited visit by Bishop Rubin lasted only a few days – three in Wellington, two in Hamilton and two in Auckland. Nevertheless the contact, speeches and conversations with him brought new life to the Polish community and confirmed that the effort to retain the Polish language and traditions was both necessary and worthwhile.

The Bishop kept his promise. In June, 1970, Father W. Lisik of the Order of Christ arrived in New Zealand to begin full-time pastoral work among the Poles.

The Invited; p75-76