By Elizabeth McFarlane
Aged just 22 years old and in his third year of a Marketing and Management Degree, Fr Piotr Kruk OP decided he wanted to become a monk.
After knocking on the door of the Dominicans, affectionately known as the ‘Hounds of Heaven’, Fr Piotr spent a month in their seminary, but was told he wasn’t ready.
It wouldn’t be until over a decade later that his determination to become a priest would be realised.
“I was ordained a priest five years ago. I’m quite a young priest, but not young in age. I’m almost 40,” Fr Piotr said.
A Polish Dominican, Fr Piotr serves at St Joseph’s Parish in Kingswood. He is supporting Catholic Campus Ministry at Western Sydney University in addition to supporting the sisters at Mount Schoenstatt in Mulgoa.
Fr Piotr has recently been appointed the new Chaplain of the Young Christian Workers (YCW) and Young Christian Students (YCS) in Parramatta.
Simply attired in white Dominican robes, a staple of the 800 year old order, Fr Piotr’s clothing is in stark contrast to his high school days of adorning himself in all black to frontline his metal band.
“I was part of a sub-culture in high school. It was a very dangerous sub-culture as well. I was really scary, dressed in black all the time like a Goth,” Fr Piotr said.
Fr Piotr’s call to the priesthood has been a tumultuous journey. In his early 20s, he lost his best friend and then, not long afterwards, he lost his astronomy teacher. Fr Piotr began to question the purpose of life, reflecting on the words of his astronomy teacher to “look higher”.
“Those two moments were telling me to wake up,” Fr Piotr said.
Fr Piotr visited the Dominicans with high hopes of becoming a priest to realise this higher purpose in life, but he was left feeling disappointed and dejected when he was turned away for not being ready.
He felt unsatisfied and unfulfilled with simply returning to his studies, so he decided to take a year off to work in England.
“After England, I came back to Poland with a lot of savings. I started spending it and being led back into the party lifestyle.
“But there was something still inside that I could not push away; an unanswered question about my vocation. I remember I bought a telescope and one night I sat on the roof, watching the stars and thinking of my astronomy teacher. I started to pray for the first time in a long time.
“I said, ‘God, you have one year to convince me to be a priest and I have three years to find a wife,’” Fr Piotr said.
Despite meeting a girl at Church and forming a deep relationship with her, Fr Piotr still had a love for Christ and a desire for the priesthood.
“I discovered the presence of the Holy Spirit and the old memory of being in love with Jesus came back refreshed. It was like a new wave of memories and feelings that I had had before,” Fr Piotr said.
There was no choice but for Fr Piotr to knock on the door of the Dominicans again, some four years later after his first visit. But this time he was ready.
From November 2015 to January 2017, the Dominican Order is celebrating its 800 year jubilee. To find out more, please visit: stjoseph800.org
Dominican Plays Didgeridoo Downunder
After his ordination to the priesthood, Fr Piotr was asked by his provincial to go to Australia to support campus ministry, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Having always wanted to travel to Australia, he learnt how to play the didgeridoo and how to throw a boomerang so that he could engage with the youth. Unknown to Fr Piotr, not everyone in Australia can play.
“I thought everyone knew how to play the didgeridoo!” Fr Piotr exclaimed.
“I left my proper didgeridoo in Poland because I thought I wouldn’t need it. I thought to myself, you don’t take your own wood to the forest,” he explained.
But Fr Piotr has managed to build a makeshift didgeridoo from pipes he bought at Bunnings Warehouse. He’s currently trying to convince his brothers to save up to buy a real one.
Watch Fr Piotr play his makeshift didgeridoo below: