When Father Marek Wasilewski, M.Id, asked Jesus for a sign, one wasn’t long in coming. He had just returned from a pilgrimage to his native Poland and had met a girl there. But ever since he was a child, he had wanted to become a priest. Confused, he went to the chapel at St. John’s University where he was a freshman and knelt to pray.
“I asked Christ, ‘What do you want me to do?”’ he recalled. “Do you want me to get married or become a missionary or religious? That’s when one of our brothers, Father Bob (Robert Badillo, M.Id.) came into the chapel and said, ‘Do you want to be a saint?’ He said, ‘Meet my office when you finish.”’
Signs doesn’t get much more explicit than that.
It hadn’t been the first time Father Wasilewski, 32, had made the offer to Christ. He recalled making a similar proposal to forgo marriage when he was a sophomore in high school. His infatuation with a religious life and the priesthood began in his native Poland when he was 6. His father had passed away and his mother would take him to church with her every morning. Observing the altar servers, Father Wasilewski admitted he was a little jealous and vowed to be one himself one day.
“I was always open to Christ, being at the altar since I was a kid,” he told CNY. “But more specifically in the vocation of becoming a priest, all the things that priests do, like preaching homilies, teaching people, advising people.”
Father Wasilewski said that not only did the encounter with Father Badillo set him on the road to becoming a priest, like a GPS it even it even gave him a specific route to take. He decided to become an Idente Missionary. “I asked Christ to send somebody and he was the one that was sent,” he offered.
But he admits he was a little uncomfortable at first. He had been “kind of shy, self-conscious” as a high school kid growing up in Queens, mostly among fellow Polish immigrants, attending Mass in Polish. He came to America when he was 13.
“I was thinking a more contemplative order and we are more a teaching order,” he explained. “I had to give talks and these things and I was thinking of changing. But then I was reading St. Faustina and she was kind of saying the same thing to Christ, and Christ told her, ‘This is where I want you to be.’”
Father Wasilewski decided this is where God wanted him to be too.
“I mean throughout I always knew that this is what Christ called me to. It was such a strong call since I was a child and then the sign that I had received. I asked to have someone come to me and (Father Badillo) came. So as far as knowing this is what he called me to I always knew.”
Father Wasilewski’s first Mass will be Sunday, May 26 at noon at Santa Maria Church in the Bronx. Father Fernando Real, M.Id., general procurator of the Idente Missionaries, will deliver the homily.