Profiles in Catholicism
 
An Interview with Father Marek Smolka


by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.


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Dr. Knight:   You are a young priest at Holy Name Parish.  Were you delighted to receive this assignment?
     
Father Marek:
 
  I was very surprised when the priest placement board called me that I will start my ministry at HNC. At first, I asked them if I can pray over it so I went on for a retreat. I prayed over it, and I decided to “give it a try”.  My retreat was a very prayerful time and during that I answered to God’s call and invitation to start a new ministry at HNC.
     
Dr. Knight:   You went to Hubbard High School right next to St. Nicholas of Tolentine?  Did you begin to realize your vocation in high school?
     
Father Marek:  

My vocation to the priesthood started when I was in 7th and 8th grade. I always wanted to wear priest clothes and even I sometimes played priest at home by celebrating mass. During my high school years, I put aside my vocation because I wanted to be computer teacher. Also, my parents and I moved to the USA when I was in my sophomore year of high school so I wanted to focus on learning the English language.

     
Dr. Knight:   Did the call you received from Christ bring you unbridled joy? 
     
Father Marek   Yes of course. It’s good to be joyful, because Christ is present in my life, and he guides me every day through my ministry
     
Dr. Knight:   How about an easy question: what is your favorite book film and at this time?
     
Father Marek   I am not an expert on reading and not a big fan of reading books, but in my free time I like to read spiritual books, as well as some story telling books. My favorite movie is “ELF”, Yes, it ss funny, but I see a lot of joy coming from that movie, and also I love Christmas so that’s always a good movie to watch especially during the holiday season with my family.
     
Dr. Knight:   Our ministry is becoming more global and you have many ties to Poland. Could you tell us how those ties influenced you?
     
Father Marek
 
  First, we are a church and a family. We do not look at where you come from, but on what you believe in. I feel that no matter where we come from we all can unite in our faith, and our connection to God. I feel like my tie to Poland makes me want to teach everyone about the different traditions, and show everyone that we are all different in many celebration, but we are all united in the faith.
     
Dr. Knight:   Our ministry is becoming more global and you have many ties to Poland. Could you tell us how those ties influenced you?
     
Father Marek
 
 

After living for 17 years in USA sometimes it’s easy for me to speak in English, however Polish is my first language and that’s a language that I communicate with my parents. An artifact that I have, and many people ask me about it, is my Highlander hat. It reminds me of where I come from, and what my culture is

     
Dr. Knight:   Do you think/feel that the use of social media in our parishes can assist people to think about knowing/loving/serving God through their ‘cyber-neighbor’?
     
Father Marek   The social community is very important to not only our parish but also young adults, and non-practicing. Using social media can get many messages out to those individuals, about what is going on in the parish, and bring them to the church.
     
Dr. Knight:   Are people more comfortable speaking to you in their first language?  Tell us about the Polish artifacts you have?
     
Father Marek   After living for 17 years in USA sometimes it’s easy for me to speak in English, however Polish is my first language and that’s a language that I communicate with my parents. An artifact that I have, and many people ask me about it, is my Highlander hat. It reminds me of where I come from, and what my culture is.
     
Dr. Knight:   You’re the liturgy director at Holy Name as well as the Associate pastor.  What importance does liturgy take in your daily life?
     
Father Marek   Every time I celebrate Mass I thank God for the gift of priesthood. Mass is in the center of my life.
     
Dr. Knight:   Who is your favorite saint and why?
     
Father Marek   I have many favorite saints for example: Saint John Paul II, Sister Faustyna, and Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, but out of those my absolute favorite is, Saint John Paul II. When I was a teenager he is the one that I admired in the Catholic Church. I looked up to him and his story, when I was discerning my vocation.
     
Dr. Knight:   Besides your philosophy courses what was the favorite course you took in the seminary?
     
Father Marek   This was never my favorite class, but my favorite course was Mariology. I enjoyed this class because of the devotion I have towards the Blessed Mother.
     
Dr. Knight:   You went on a Marian pilgrimage with the people of Holy Name, how has this prayerful time affected you?
     
Father Marek   This was my Marian retreat, especially when we visited Fatima, I was fascinated, honored, and blessed that I was able to celebrate mass at the Grotto of Appearance. Also when I was able to, attend the rosary, and candlelight procession at night.