General of the Missionary Oblates Fr. Louis Lougen gives a blessing to Paul John Patrick at his ordination ceremony on June 8. Photo by Fr. Marcin Serwin

New Oblate welcomed home

  • June 9, 2015

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - It is only fitting that John Paul Patrick returned to his home parish for his final steps to the priesthood with the Missionary Oblates of Assumption Province. On June 8, Patrick was ordained to the priesthood in front of hundreds of witnesses at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Mississauga.

It was his parish that introduced Patrick to the Oblate community and gave him an initial sense of the religious life of an Oblate priest.

As a young altar server, Patrick admits the idea of pursuing a vocation to the priesthood didn’t really enter his mind.

“When I was younger, I wasn’t interested at all in religious vocation,” said Patrick. “My family, I would say, is a quite Catholic family. I like going to Mass and meeting people, friends there, but being a priest was not for me.”

Patrick said what drew him to the Oblates the most is their down-to-earth nature.

“The priests in my parish, I remember, after Mass would come and play soccer with us,” said Patrick. “We developed a good relationship with them in a sense that they were always open. I remember they would come to our house a couple times and would visit us. They are very down-to-earth and very close to the people.”

Patrick didn’t really know how the idea came up because there was no “magic moment.” But at the age of 18, he began to think about what it would be like to be a priest. He was about to graduate high school and go on to university.

“I think I remember seeing an Oblate (at church) and saying ‘You know what? I think I can do that,’ and afterwards when I went home I said, ‘Well, that’s not me,’ ” said Patrick.

He grew up on a small family farm in rural Milton, where Patrick developed a love for operating tractors, heavy machinery and working on the land.

“I was getting ready to study mechanical engineering. I was working with a couple different farms in Milton. I also had my own custom agriculture firm. I’m not doing too badly for a young guy… I kept pushing the idea out of my head.”

He said he always envisioned himself as a mechanical engineer, so when he began to think about the priesthood, Patrick chose to ignore it as a passing phase. However, the idea persisted and it became harder to ignore.

Patrick hadn’t talked about his curiosity to anybody before consulting an old friend, Fr. Burdzy Mieczyslaw, who had just become an Oblate priest himself. Burdzy encouraged him to continue to pray about the vocation.

“I think he saw that I was a little upset that there wasn’t some sort of test that I can do to know. I wasn’t really that impressed, I thought ‘Pray about it? Yeah okay, sure,’ ” said Patrick. “I think subconsciously, actually praying about it was the first acknowledgment that maybe there is something to it and it’s not just some crazy idea.”

Patrick also began to develop a good relationship with Fr. Stanislaw Kowal, pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe at the time. When he told Kowal about his interest in entering the priesthood, Kowal encouraged him to become more involved with the parish community and invited Patrick to help out around the church more.

“In some sense, he was probably the guy that had the most influence on me. When I thought about the Oblates, I always thought of Stan Kowal as my ideal.”

On May 1, 2014, Patrick professed his final vows and received the Oblate cross of the late Kowal as a way of reminding him of his mentor and ensuring Kowal’s charism lived on with him.

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