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A witness to history: Father Łucjan Królikowski

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 14:16
Notacja filmowa z franciszkaninem, o. Łucjanem Królikowskim. Fot. materiały MIIWŚ.

The delegation of the Museum of the Second World War met with Father Łucjan Królikowski, a Franciscan from the Order of the Friars Minor Conventual, a great clergyman, a great patriot and an extraordinary witness to history. The head of the Film Documentation Department, Waldemar Kowalski, conducted a film interview with him, concerning his time as a novice with Father Maksymilian Kolbe, deportation to Siberia, ministry among Polish exiles and pastoral work in Anders’ Army and in Canada.

Father Łucjan Królikowski (born on September 7, 1919 in Nowy Kramsk) is a Polish Conventual Franciscan, son of Stanisław and Wiktoria, née Tomiak. Before the war, still as a teenager, he joined the Franciscan Order in Niepokalanów. There, he met Father Maksymilian Kolbe, an exceptional authority and spiritual guide of young seminarians; later a saint who gave his life in KL Auschwitz for one of his fellow inmates. Father Łucjan Królikowski had the privilege to take temporary vows in the presence of Father Maksymilian Kolbe. Soon after, he went to study philosophy in Lviv, which was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. In the summer of 1940 he was arrested by the NKVD and deported to Siberia, where he lived and worked in inhuman conditions cutting taiga forest (in winter the frost reached even -40 °C). After many years, he collected his memories in The Diary of a Siberian and a Wanderer, published in 2008.

After the "amnesty" for exiled Poles, the Franciscan graduated from the Artillery Officer School in Kyrgyzstan and reached the Persia and Iraq with the Polish Army. Then, in Lebanon, he studied theology at the University of St. Joseph in Beirut, where on June 30, 1946 he was ordained a priest. He began his pastoral work at the War Hospital in Al-Kantara, in north-east Egypt. Currently, there is only a Military Cemetery there, which contains over 100 Polish graves from the period of World War II.

In Anders’ Army, Father Łucjan Królikowski served as a chaplain in Egypt. After the demobilization of the army he worked among former Siberian exiles, in the Polish camp in Tengeru near Arusha, in Tanzania. There, he was involved in pastoral work among Polish children - orphans and half-orphans, victims of communism, whom the NKVD deported from Eastern Poland to Siberia. The Franciscan became an educator, guardian and second father for these children. In 1949, when the British liquidated camps in Tanzania, encouraged by their relatives, who did not want to surrender the children to the communist regime, he helped 150 children by going with them to Canada. There, he took care of their education and upbringing until they reached the age of majority.

Father Łucjan Królikowski is widely known to the Polish community in Canada. In the years 1966-1998 he worked in the Polonia radio program "Father Justin Rosary Hour" - which was broadcast in Athol Springs, Erie country, in the USA. He now has a pastoral ministry at a cloister in Chicopee, USA.

In 2007, Father Łucjan Królikowski was decorated by the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczyński with the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, and in 2012 he also received the Order of the Smile. On January 13, 2013, he was awarded the title of Friend of Polish Culture and Language School in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Father Łucjan Królikowski is the author of the following books: "Stolen Childhood. Polish children on the wandering trail 1939-1950", "The Diary of a Siberian and a Wanderer", "Love explained everything to me. Adventures of a Spirit".

Source: M. Waligóra, "Lucjan Królikowski, an extraordinary man, a wonderful priest completely devoted to God and his fellow men, a witness to the tragic events of the 20th century, a great patriot"