Catholic 05

Rev. Fr. Edward Kwiatkowski

Obituary

Rev. Fr. Edward Nicholas Kwiatkowski

April 19, 1929 – October 11, 2021

Father Edward Kwiatkowski was called home to our Merciful Father on Thanksgiving Day, October 11, 2021, at the age of 92, and one month short of his 26th anniversary to the priesthood.

Born in Elphinstone, MB of parents Michael and Eudokia (Labay), he was the 8th of 10 children; now only his sister Marge survives him. His was a “late” vocation: happy years of childhood and early adulthood spent on the farm segued to marriage to Phyllis Zemliak, leading to a remarkable whirlwind of adventures in Morden, Winnipeg, Rossburn, The Pas, the Esterhazy mines, and eventually Brandon, all the while raising seven children. On retirement, he chafed to do more for the Lord with his new spare time. His vocation to the priesthood, always thought impossible because of his humble beginnings, crystallized at this time and he undertook seminary studies in Rome. Completing these, an invitation to serve in Ukraine led to service there both before and after his ordination to the priesthood on November 12, 1995.

He was immensely grateful to the Lord for giving him over 25 years of priesthood, during which he served in Manitoba (Roblin/Russell district), Victoria, BC, and summer in Kenora, ON. He returned to Winnipeg to assist in his retirement years his son, Rev. Fr. Michael Kwiatkowski. Four months ago, new tiredness was diagnosed as leukemia, and after a short and prayerful battle, he died just as the daily family online rosary by his bedside ended.

The family is extremely grateful to Dr. Baher Kilada, St. Boniface Hospital admin and staff, Palliative Care, and WRHA Homecare personnel.

Public viewing from 5pm until 7pm today, Thursday, Oct 14.  Priestly Parastas will be celebrated Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7 PM; funeral Divine Liturgy at 10 AM Friday, both at Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, Winnipeg.  Interment to follow at Holy Family Cemetery, Wpg.

 Livestream link:   http://live.blessedvirginmary.ca/

 

Rev. Fr. Edward Kwiatkowski

April 19, 1929 – October 11, 2021

Father Edward, the 8th of ten children, was born to Michael and Evdokia (Labay) Kwiatkowski in Elphinstone, Manitoba on April 19, 1929.  

He grew up on the farm, loved every minute of the lifestyle, and reveled in the surrounding nature that was still abundant and wild in those days. As he grew, he explored other opportunities by working in Toronto during the long winter/summer breaks in farming.  He loved motorized machinery whether it was tractors on the farm or his Indian Scout motorcycle. Next to this, his special enjoyment was hunting for whatever was in season: from the time his father gifted him with a rifle, the pantry was never empty for meat.

His special love, however, was for his Catholic Faith and religion in general. From a young age, he borrowed books from itinerant priests – Elphinstone had no permanent priest -- and would read up on matters of theology, church history, and religious events. This is a love that he maintained throughout his life, only adding contemporary church politics into the mix. However, he explained later, it just did not occur to any one of the areas and time to encourage priestly vocations in farm boys like him.

 Ed charmed and married Phyllis Zemliak in Elphinstone in 1957 on an August day that was marked by a sudden snowfall. (Many years later, discovering that the Church celebrates near this time the feast of the famed snowfall of Maria Maggiore in Rome, they often pondered over its significance in their own family, given the future Rome connection.)  They lived for a while on the farm, but then soon moved on to many ventures and adventures. Over the years they would raise seven children and would take up residence in towns and cities around Manitoba wherever work and business prospects would lead them. Ed and his family lived in Elphinstone, Rossburn, Morden, The Pas, Winnipeg, and Brandon. He worked as a mechanic for Kingsway Motors, a miner in the potash mines of Esterhazy, an owner and operator of a Texaco service station and restaurant in Morden, a general contractor in Brandon, and later as a life skills instructor for the WestBran Project. This was a project in which individuals who experienced difficulties in life and sometimes even landed in prison, were offered various programs to learn helpful skills and trades that could get them started on a new path in life with new employment. Edward enjoyed the opportunity immensely and the “students” enjoyed him. He saw it not so much a job but a pastoral opportunity by which to help those entrusted to him to be proud of themselves and to be the best they could be. This was his last formal employment before retirement. Prior to this, his work as a general contractor involved building, remodeling, and restructuring homes and commercial properties as well as a convent in Winnipeg. (Of course, he also enjoyed the invaluable networking during the seldom-missed coffee breaks.)  All his house and apartment structures remain in active use. 

 He constantly searched for opportunities to better himself and grow his skills to better help those around him. After work hours, he took evening university courses at Brandon University, was active in the pro-life movement, participated eagerly in a strong movement of parents concerned about the direction of education at the time, especially to combat anti-family sex education courses.  He even ran for a position on the local school board. With the encouragement of the local parish priest, the late Fr. Eugene  Rudachek, Ed and his wife sponsored one of the first families of Vietnamese refugees to Canada. He organized pilgrimage trips to Marian shrines. In between his busy work schedule, he took the family on amazing, unforgettable road trips to northern Canada and throughout the American West, and into Mexico. 

 After a few months of retirement, Ed felt restless, and a long-time voice tucked in the back of his heart started to resurface. He knew that he wanted to do something more with his life. His children were practically all grown, and he was aware that there was a strong permanent diaconate program in Manitoba at the time.  If he took up studies in theology, could he perhaps serve as a deacon? He attended one class... and came out in disappointment. “I don’t want to be just a glorified altar boy!” he muttered, without elaborating, to the consternation of his listeners.  But he had come to the realization that he already had enough theology under his belt to realize he could do so much more as a priest. In fact, he confided in a close friend: “If I could only be ordained a priest, I would go anywhere! I would serve in deepest Africa!”  He consulted some of his clergy friends and they were very encouraging. Since one of his sons had completed studies and seminary in Rome, and another son was studying there at the time, Ed dreamed of taking up studies at one of the Pontifical Universities in the Eternal City. He finally spoke with Metropolitan Maksym Hermaniuk who not only encouraged him but wrote a letter of recommendation to Angelicum University. Truly now blossomed a situation of “He had chosen for God... now God was choosing for him”! 

Edward consulted with Phyllis, who informed him that not only was she delighted to hear of his spiritual quest, but that this could only be done unhindered by family ties. She told him: “A good priest is “another Christ”. His entire life is spent striving to serve God better and to bring people to Him. He belongs to his parishioners; he can’t have a wife needing his time and do a good job.” She reassured him that she and their children would be supportive, especially with prayer, but never intrusive, so that for all intents and purposes, his parishioners would have an undivided priest serving them. Edward and Phyllis understood the sacrifice they were making – in fact, they had both yearned when they were young to join a religious community but life had taken a different turn -- and kept this agreement right up to Fr. Edward’s death.

 So off he flew to Rome.  Edward was now a seminarian! He was truly thrilled and grateful to God to have this opportunity and applied himself 200% to his academic work. He would read the course materials and then everything else he could on the subject, and his resultant grades were top-notch.  His class notes and additional commentaries – of which he wrote volumes -- were sought after by many of his classmates, especially when exam period loomed. He was happy to share his notes and engage in theological discussions of any kind. It took him a while to get used to the espresso coffees and cappuccinos, but when he did, you could always find him at the university café in the midst of any theology discussion group. 

Upon completing his studies in theology, he traveled to Ukraine in the early 1990s and began to visit different places and discern where most he might be needed. It became obvious that there was a myriad of opportunities for anyone wanting to serve the Lord and His People.  He was invited by the late Bishop Sophron Dmyterko to teach at the bourgeoning theological seminary of Ivano-Frankivsk. However, the Bishop of Zboriv, too,  offered him the concrete opportunity of a period of pastoral training in some local parishes followed by diaconal ordination. He took the latter path. Living with the local pastor’s family in Belz and developing a relationship of mutual admiration with the local clergy, Ed was able to experience life in post-soviet Ukraine and glean a lifetime of practice and local traditions and customs that served him well in this new period in his life.  He was ordained to the diaconate in the famous wartime city of Brody after which he served in the procathedral of the Holy Cross and worked at the chancery helping with international correspondence. On the side, he taught religion and adult English classes.

After several months of serving as a deacon, a date was set for his ordination to the priesthood, which would take place at the then-eparchial cathedral in the city of Zboriv. Redemptorist Bishop Michael Koltun ordained him to the priesthood on November 12, 1995. It was the day of a severe winter snowstorm, but his driver was able to get him to the church on time.  Father Ed’s first appointment was to assist at the church in Brody.  As well, one of his special joys was offering a weekly Divine Liturgy for the deaf and mute. He arranged for sign language interpreters to communicate with the grateful congregation.

Father Edward’s chronic respiratory problems flared up not long after this.  For a time, trips to the Sheptytsky Hospital in Lviv for breathing treatments usually helped clear up the problem for several weeks. Eventually, his health worsened, so he agreed with his bishop that it would be worth getting back to Canada to receive needed treatment and hopefully return to better health.  He flew back to Manitoba, where the air was dryer, but his recovery was slow.  In the course of this time of healing, Father Ed was able to help out by substituting for local clergy that needed to be away from their parishes. Then the pastoral district of the Roblin-Russell area opened up and was in need of a priest. Then- Metropolitan Michael Bzdel decided to take a chance on Father Ed who was officially just visiting.  Father Ed ended up serving the entire area for six years, with the zeal of a younger priest. He put his whole heart into his priestly ministry, perhaps overdoing it, but offering all his many parishes as many services as he possibly could. He recalled how many times after a full weekend of services and hospital visits, he would be driving back home late Sunday with his chin on his steering wheel just to get home, have something to eat, and get some rest.

 After these six intense years, Father Ed was offered the opportunity to serve a single parish on the west coast in the City of Victoria. He thought long and hard, but then decided to accept the offer for his own health and so be able to serve the Church for several more years. He served there for some five years with the same pastoral dedication that he always had. The parish grew and expanded to include many new parishioners from various backgrounds. He maintained contact with the several Mexican families that joined his parish at the time.

 As Father Ed tells it, the local bishop then thought it was time that he considered retiring as there were other prospects that could take up the pastoral assignments. Thus, after a wonderful farewell, Father Edward returned to Winnipeg where he took up a lot of substitution work with many local clergies in both the Archeparchy of Winnipeg and the Toronto Eparchy (serving at the Kenora parish in Ontario). Although he was now officially retired, Father Ed became as active as ever at Holy Eucharist Parish in Winnipeg where his son was serving as pastor. He took up residence at the Kildonan Horizons residential building across the street from the parish church and was loved by the people at his building and at the parish. Some at his building were wary at first about having a priest live in their midst, but they soon appreciated his presence and when he finally had to leave, they missed him very much just as he missed them. At the parish, he was the unofficial associate pastor who was around all the time. He celebrated Liturgies, joined in the perogy-making, and was a much appreciated always-ready-to-listen older priest with a kind, genuine smile.

 Father Ed lived a full life of several careers and a myriad of adventures. Until illness overtook him, he was forever young. He bounced on long train rides with the Seminarians throughout Italy and to Ukraine. He immersed himself in his studies and in the challenging culture shift of life in Ukrainian villages and towns soon after the fall of the Soviet Union. In every parish he served, he printed out, framed, and distributed lovely pictures of Christ the Lover of Mankind to encourage devotion to Our Lord.  Father Edward took everything in stride and not only did he not complain, but he accepted each new reality as an opportunity to learn about the people that he wanted to serve. His character played a great role in his being liked by everyone in whatever situation. He was that kind of person who didn’t hold a grudge or nurse a wound longer than a minute. He saw the bigger picture and kept his focus on the most important goal – living the faith and working toward the salvation of souls. Everything else mattered little in comparison. He enjoyed every period of his life because his Faith was at the heart of everything. His love for the Lord and His Church allowed him to keep moving forward and changing direction, location, and career whenever he discerned from the Lord that it was time to do so. He loved his family dearly. He loved the satisfaction of his many jobs well done. However, of all his experiences and career periods, he rightly valued most of all the unexpected joy and grace of his priestly ministry that lasted over a quarter-century. He was above all a conscientious priest. He was happy-go-lucky in his outlook, but his priestly duties and opportunities were never taken lightly or squandered. Right to the end, as he raised his hand to give his last priestly blessing to the family that had just prayed a Rosary with him, it was a solemn and grace-filled act in the name of Christ Who called him.

 He leaves, not to mourn his passing, but to miss him and remember him fondly with the hope of meeting him again in the Kingdom of Heaven: his immediate family (including his children Sr. Michaila, SSJ, Rocco (Sandra), Fr. Michael, Mary Jean, Dr. Anne Penny (Ted Parzyjagla), Anthony and Dr. Michelle (Ivan Semenjuk)... his grandchildren and great-grandson... his lone remaining sibling Marge... his nieces and nephews of whom he was so fond... his many friends and colleagues over the years... his brother clergy... his in-laws, Sr. Jean & Sr. Muriel, SSMI and Nestor Zemliak...his beloved parishioners whom he loved serving... his dear neighbors at the Kildonan Horizons.

He now goes to meet the Lord and to see again those who went before him: his parents, and his siblings: Mary (Tony Dziver), Anthony, Frank, Josephine (Matt Ewasyn), Jean (Walter Matiowsky), Bernice (Al Korolyk), Lawrence and Stanley.

He had a list of all these taped into his Altar book and prayed for them daily at the Divine Liturgy. He will surely keep them all in his prayer so that he has the joy of seeing you again in the presence of God in heaven.

The family thanks wholeheartedly to those involved in his care, especially  Dr. Baher Kilada, St. Boniface Hospital admin and staff, Palliative Care, and WRHA Homecare personnel.

 

Public viewing from 5pm until 7pm today, Thursday, Oct 14.  Priestly Parastas will be celebrated Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7 PM; funeral Divine Liturgy at 10 AM Friday, both at Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, Winnipeg.  Interment to follow at Holy Family Cemetery, Wpg.

Livestream link:   http://live.blessedvirginmary.ca/

Funeral arrangements by Korban Funeral Home, Winnipeg.

 

Divine Liturgy offerings for the repose of Fr. Edward’s soul are greatly appreciated.

 

 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Rev. Fr. Edward Kwiatkowski, please visit our floral store.


Services

Parastas
Thursday
October 14, 2021

7:00 PM
Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church (Winnipeg)

Video is available for this event


Divine Liturgy
Friday
October 15, 2021

10:00 AM
Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church (Winnipeg)

Video is available for this event


Viewing
Friday
October 15, 2021

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church (Winnipeg)

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