Loving the priesthood: Fr. Michael Niemczak
When Archbishop John Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe asked Fr. Michael Niemczak if he would serve on Mount Angel Seminary’s priestly formation faculty, he responded with a firm “yes.”
“I just love the priesthood,” shares Fr. Niemczak. “To be in a place that tries to teach future priests what the priesthood is all about, that was exciting for me.” Fr. Niemczak arrived at Mount Angel Seminary in July 2023 and currently serves as the coordinator of the propaedeutic stage of seminary formation. That means he works with the men new to seminary life, whether they are right out of high school or have already completed college and had a career.
Fr. Niemczak describes the essence of the propaedeutic stage as “discovering with [the seminarians]: what kind of man are you going to be, and is that man a priest?” From the perspective of the universal call to holiness, Fr. Niemczak likes to share with the seminarians that “the goal is not that they have an ‘Fr.’ in front of their name; it’s that they have an ‘St.’ in front of their name.”
That perspective took on a deeply personal meaning for Fr. Niemczak when he traveled recently to Poland to concelebrate the beatification Mass for the Ulma family. Born in the U.S. to Polish immigrants, Niemczak is a relative of the Ulma family, who were cousins of his great-grandfather. During World War II, the entire family – mother, father, 6 children and a 7th in the womb – was martyred in 1944 by Nazi soldiers for providing safe harbor to two Jewish families. The Ulma family, Fr. Niemczak has reflected, were not the only ones to harbor Jewish families during the war, but he is grateful that they have been the ones chosen to be the face of the heroism of many.
Fr. Niemczak brought over 1,000 prayer intentions with him from people worldwide, which he had gathered ahead of the beatification. During his time in Poland, he paused to read, remember, and pray for each intention.
– Ethan Alano