Learning is important but the truest knowledge is the love of God experienced in our own hearts.
It is that ineffable understanding which Salvatorian Father Karol Kulczycki SDS tries to pass on in his priestly ministry – at the parish and school in which he serves, and as the leader of 20 Salvatorian priests and brothers serving in Western Australia and Sydney.
Born in the Western Polish village of Czernina, Fr Karol has lived out the majority of his priesthood in Western Australia, arriving from Krakow in 1997.
In the years since, he has served in parishes in Esperance, Willetton, Merredin, Greenmount and Ocean Reef, as well as being a chaplain to Chisholm and Prendiville colleges.
Whereas other religious orders might have a specific area of mission – such as teaching or nursing – the motivation of the Salvatorians’ founder Fr John Baptist Jordan SDS was simply to proclaim that Jesus is Our Saviour.
Fr Karol said the call and charism, or special gift of the order is found in John 17:3: “And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
The life of a religious is distinct from that of a diocesan priest in being constituted by, and steeped in, community life.
“We grow in the community of religious life and grow as a family and we support each other,” Fr Karol said.
“It’s the way we live our lives; how we coordinate certain ministries; how we cooperate and strongly work together. We support each other at a personal level… a family of priests and brothers working in the same direction, supporting each other like a family”.
In discerning his own vocation as a young man he did not suffer from the terminal indecision that plagues many people’s discernment.
He attributes it to the culture of his homeland, at least as it was in the mid to late 1980s when it was common for young people to make long term decisions about their futures at the end of highschool.
The Salvatorian Fathers held a holiday retreat and his parish priest asked handed him a flier, asking him if he wanted to go.
It was there, during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, that the then-18-year-old first felt called.
His advice to young men who might have such an inkling echoes that of his countryman, Blessed John Paul II, himself echoing an unceasing message in Scripture.
“If people are feeling that call, don’t be afraid to respond to that. We are afraid to make commitments but it is the journey of life.
“If you fall in love with someone then you just respond to that, and you make radical decisions.
“Vocation is just falling in love with God. That’s how we build our relationship with him.
It is always a struggle to pass on the faith, he said, but the best way is to share “what is alive in your own heart”:
“Many people are searching for the more theological responses and they are important to research because knowledge is essential and important. You can study all the theology but without a personal encounter with Christ, it’s not building anything.”
Young men are invited to the Salvatorian Reflection Weekend at 2 Caledonia Ave, Currambine from 3pm, Saturday to 1pm, Sunday, August 17-18.
For more information, call Fr Karol Kulczycki SDS on 9304 2907.