REGINA — He stood at the door and greeted everyone personally who came to help him celebrate 80 years of life, 54 of those as a priest with the Society of Christ Fathers.
Rev. Marian Ogorek was born in Lublin, Poland, in 1936. “Yes, I remember the war,” Ogorek said in an interview with the PM. His brother was born in the summer of 1939 and the war started on Sept. 1. Ogorek lost no immediate family during the war, but several cousins perished shortly after the conflict began. After the war, the country was taken over by the communists.
Ogorek entered the seminary of the Society of Christ Fathers after high school. The communists didn’t much hinder the seminaries or the churches. “Poland is 95 per cent Catholic, so everything was open.” They didn’t have to go underground, as in some other communist countries.
He completed his studies and was ordained in 1962, and immediately assigned to Poznan, then Goleniow where he was vicar. He began his missionary work to Polish immigrants in 1970 with an assignment in the United States.
His first assignment in Canada was to Calgary in 1979, then back to the U.S. for assignments in several locations. He returned to Calgary for a few years, then went to Windsor, Ont., and another return to the U.S. before coming to Regina in 1993 from Houston, Texas. He remained parish priest at St. Anthony’s until 2012 when a bout with cancer took him into retirement.
According to current St. Anthony’s pastor Rev. Stanislaw Poszwa, Ogorek was twice near death. “He was anointed by Archbishop Bohan and other clergy.”
Poszwa said Ogorek stopped chemotherapy about a year ago and has been cancer-free since. He is currently priest in residence at St. Anthony’s and helps with sacramental ministry.
More than 100 people showed up for the party and after being greeted by Ogorek sat at decorated tables in preparation for the meal. “It’s all Polish food,” said Poszwa, who emceed the event and led the group in traditional Polish songs of blessing.
After the meal, the party enjoyed a slide presentation of Ogorek’s, dating back to his early years in Poland and service in the U.S. and Canada.
Ogorek thanked everyone for coming and received a blessing from the congregation, whom he blessed in turn.
As to his future, the affable priest shrugged and smiled: “Only God knows.”