Msgr. John Wendrychowicz
See that incredibly adorable priest over there? That's Fr. John Wendrychowicz. Well, he was blessed with the title of Monsignor, so he's really Msgr. John.
Anyway, today I learned that Msgr. John passed away.
Working in the Archdiocese means I get the death notices as they are shot off from our Communications office. Seeing his name on the notice felt like a punch to the gut.
I knew Msgr. John from my days as a Dougherty student. I never had him as a teacher, but he was routinely the celebrant at Masses, was ALWAYS around for Confession, and very often found in the chapel during lunch-time Eucharistic services.
He was such a kind, gentle priest. I was always sorta shy around him because he seemed so holy. I'm not shy around anyone, but I was definitely bashful around him. It was through no fault of his own. He was such a sweetheart, but I just felt very, very... I don't want to say unworthy, because that's the wrong word. I guess uncertain of myself is proper. As a result, I just remained silent and smiled a lot at him.
Anyway, he once gave me great advice in the confessional - advice I still go by to this day. He was always a wise confessor, and I appreciated that he was always - ALWAYS - so kind and gentle. Again, though, I kept my appreciation to myself. It slipped out in smiles and nods as we passed each other in the hall, but I never worked up the nerve to tell him how amazing I thought he was.
Until a few weeks ago.
He happened to call into my office, and I was lucky enough to pick up the phone. He introduced himself and I actually felt my heart jump. I blurted out, "As in Fr. John Wendrychowicz from Cardinal Dougherty???"
IMMEDIATELY I felt my cheeks burn as I realized how ridiculous it was for a secretary to blurt out a question like that when the poor guy's attempting to connect with one of his brother priests.
I could hear the confusion in his voice as he prepared to figure out who I was when he answered, "Why yes, I was at Cardinal Dougherty for a time."
I apologized, but then said, "Father, I'm so glad I picked up your call today! I was a student there - graduated class of 2001. I never said it then, but I've always wanted to tell you how wonderful of a priest I think you are. We were so lucky to have you back then."
He laughed and said, "Well thank you! I'm glad I called you today, too."
I felt so good right then because God had let me make up for all those times I hadn't said a word to him. As I passed Msgr. John over to my boss, I actually turned to my coworker Megan - super excited - because I had gotten to speak with him.
So today, when I heard news that he had passed, I was terribly saddened that we lost such a wonderful priest. However, in the same breath I uttered "Oh no... no... that's terrible!" I also said, "Well good for him."
My coworker, Russ, happened to be next to me when I said that and he said, "Wha?"
And I responded, "Yeah. Good for him. Can you imagine the Christmas celebration he's gonna get to experience this year?"
So even though I shed a few tears for him (and his parishioners as he was an active pastor when he passed), I knew that his soul would be enjoying the splendor of Heaven in time for Christmas. So if everyone would be so kind as to offer a prayer or two his way, I'd appreciate it. I really do hope Our Lady came to collect his soul, herself. He was a true representative of Christ, and I'm grateful for the blessing of both knowing him, and being able to tell him just how much I appreciated him before he met his Creator.
Bless the Lord for His goodness.
Cathrerine Norton (Wendrychowicz)
12/21/2012 06:01:30 pm
Thank you so much for this great post! It's nice to hear from people whose lives he touched. My Uncle John was such a very special man and its nice to know that others outside my family thought so too.
12/22/2012 08:40:24 am
Thank you. I'm happy you stumbled upon this! Please let your family know that I'm sending my prayers his, and your, way. You've no doubt gained for yourselves quite the saintly intercession.
12/6/2017 03:01:06 pm
I knew Msgr John Wendrychowicz at St. Josaphat many years ago
12/21/2012 11:49:07 pm
This is exactly the way I have and heard so many others describe Monsignor John. As a parishioner of St Agnes I have been blessed to have Monsignor as our pastor. You are correct in how kind and gentle he was and how his holiness was so evident. Monsignor John was the best homilist I have ever heard. He challenged us with each homily to live each day for Christ, to be faithful to the Church, and to grow more and more in our faith. He was such an inspiration to us. Monsignor helped our family during a difficult time last Christmas and was so gracious and kind. I had the opportunity to again thank Monsignor John for his help just a few short weeks before he announced his leave. I am so grateful to God for that opportunity. Monsignor was so great with the children of our parish. They will miss his homily at our Christmas Eve Mass. He connected so well with the children and they loved him so.
12/22/2012 07:12:36 am
What a beautiful tribute, yourself. I've requested to have my fellow parishioners keep you folks in our prayers. To lose your gem of a pastor so close to Christmas is no easy cross. May the angels surround and guide you in Msgr.'s footsteps to Heaven.
2/27/2013 02:21:41 pm
Oh, Patricia! Seems like God wanted to let him know just how loved and appreciated he was. Those little kisses must have peppered his heart so joyfully for God.
12/23/2012 11:06:00 am
What a beautiful tribute to Msgr. John....I had the privilege of working with him at St. John Cantius Rectory in the 90's....he was so quit witted....he made me laugh so many times...He was a very special person and a very special priest....2 yrs. ago St. Gianna's daughter visited here and there was a special Mass at Our Lady of Czewstochowa in Doylestown....Msgr. John came, even though he wasn't feeling well, and I was so happy he and I reconnected after Mass.....we sat and chatted for a long time....he met my grandchildren and blessed them.... I am so grateful that St. Gianna gave me this special time with him before he passed, b/c otherwise, I don't know if I would have ever talked to him again....just the yearly Christmas card......which we exchanged once again this year.....
12/26/2012 09:19:16 am
Thank you for the wonderful memory of our dear Pastor, Monsignor John! What a wonderful, holy example for our children. Our boys loved to get "quizzed" in Latin and History by him every time they served Mass. Our daughters just loved to hug and talk with him. He was so loving and funny too! My husband and I loved that he never shied away from speaking the truth of the Faith, especially from the pulpit. We are glad for him to be home and at rest, but St. Agnes will never seem the same without him.
2/27/2013 02:22:40 pm
Awww - that's so sweet! I can imagine him quizzing them - that's just too cute!
Fr. Jeff Stecz
1/1/2013 12:47:55 pm
Thank you for sharing these beautiful words about a remarkable man of God. Serving as Msgr. Wendrychowicz's parochial vicar for only a short time at St. Agnes was a wonderful pleasure. His example of holiness and care for others was inspiring. Even when we spoke in his last few weeks he was more concerned with how I was doing than worrying about himself.
1/18/2013 06:24:45 am
I know this response is coming far too late, but I wanted to thank you for writing such an eloquent and wonderful synopsis of my uncle. Even though it has been a few weeks since his passing, I found myself welling up with tears as I read your story. It was incredibly touching and definitely sums up the man I knew.
1/18/2013 12:03:42 pm
Thank you,Christina, for your comments. One thing was very clear to me when I worked with Msgr. John....he loved his entire family so much....I heard details of your vacations to Disney where the whole family had such a fun time...he was a very special man, and I thank you and your family for sharing him with us.
2/27/2013 02:25:06 pm
<3 How kind of you to write that. He really was magnificent on earth... I can only imagine how incredibly amazing he is in Heaven! :) Bless you and your family... you've got quite the intercessor on your side!
Rita Wendrychowicz Raddatz
2/26/2013 01:33:44 pm
What a touching story. My brother was a wonderful person. The best ever! I love him so much. My heart is so broken over his passing. Hearing such wonderful things about him helps. Sorry this is coming to you late. It's a difficult time. It has been two months and still hurts as if it just happened. I was with my brother as he took his last breath. I held his hand, kissed his forehead and told him I loved him. I was lucky to be there. Now, he's my Guardian Angel and the biggest brightest star in the sky. When I see it shining and following me, I know it's him. I'm sure he is watching all of us. We were all lucky to know him. Thank you again for the tribute to my brother. My family appreciates it.
2/27/2013 11:31:46 am
The greatest legacy your brother left......we are all better people from him having touched our lives in a special way.....He is so missed...by many...
2/27/2013 02:20:06 pm
4/13/2013 01:26:53 pm
I was just sent this website by my sister in Seattle. She loved Msgr. John as we from St. Agnes all did. He used to call us his "pars" since we came from St. Adalbert's parish in Philly. All of the words written down here about his proclamation of the word are so true. My husband and I loved his homilies which usually initiated conversation on the subject matter. The last few weeks were so hard to watch him bravely walk to the altar with what little strength he had left. I cried in the pew many times then. I was serving as EMOC one week right before he left and saw him sitting in the back room on a chair. He looked so very ill. I must have shown my feelings because when he looked up at me he said "Mary, it's God's will". I have repeated that over and over to myself, every time I start missing him. As much as I wish he could be here with us, I am grateful that he is no longer in pain.
4/14/2013 05:56:57 pm
<3 Thank you so much for this reflection. I was thinking about it at Mass this morning and ended up praying to Fr. John.
Lynne von Mechow
4/14/2013 09:09:23 am
I teared up reading how others had the same reaction on having him in our lives. he was a special gift to us for this short portion of our spiritual journey where his shoes are hard to fill and his footprints are engraved in our hearts...Lord's eternal peace to you Msgr. John
4/14/2013 05:57:40 pm
Amen, Lynne. Amen! <3
5/26/2013 11:53:49 am
It is so nice to read how Msgr. John touched so many people. From the time he came to St. Agnes as Pastor he was always trying to teach me something which I appreciated. He had a great sense of humor and was very holy. He was very sick and wanted to go home which was hard for me to accept. But seeing him suffering so much I prayed the Lord would call him home. I miss him so much but, I know he is happy with the Lord.
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