A photo of Fr Thomasz Dzida from March 2015. The 34-year-old associate pastor of Scarborough's Our Lady Queen of Poland was on pilgrimage in Jordan when he suffered a massive stroke and died a few days later. Photo/Facebook via Thomasz Dzida

Sudden stroke claims life of Scarborough Polish priest on pilgrimage

By 
  • September 7, 2016

A Scarborough, Ont., parish is mourning the loss of its 34-year-old associate pastor who died suddenly while on pilgrimage in Jordan.

Fr. Tomasz Dzida, active in youth and family ministry at Our Lady Queen of Poland parish, was struck down by a massive stroke Aug. 27. He was rushed to the Al Khalidi Hospital and Medical Centre in Amman, Jordan, where he suffered a second stroke.

The young priest never regained consciousness and died Sept. 5 in Jordan.

His body has been transferred to Poland and a funeral is being planned in his hometown of Czechowice-Dziedzice, three-and-a-half hours south of Warsaw.

“We mourn the passing of Fr. Dzida,” said Cardinal Thomas Collins. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, members of his religious community, the Society of Christ and the parishioners at Our Lady Queen of Poland. May he rest in peace.”

At least 600 parishioners gathered at Our Lady Queen of Poland Aug. 31 for Mass and to pray for Fr. Dzida before the blessed sacrament. By then parishioners knew only a miracle could save their priest.

“Because only a miracle can save him. From a medical point of view, there’s no hope,” Our Lady Queen of Poland pastor Fr. Adam Bobala told The Catholic Register.

Fr. Dzida had spent this summer on almost constant pilgrimage. In July he led a group of 30 young parishioners from Toronto to Krakow, Poland, for World Youth Day. He returned at the beginning of August to lead one of three groups of walking pilgrims in the annual Polish trek to the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ont.

The Midland pilgrimage ended Aug. 14, but Fr. Dzidic was again on pilgrimage Aug. 21. He flew to Tel Aviv to begin a Holy Land pilgrimage in Israel and Jordan with members of his religious congregation.

He was due to return to Toronto Sept. 2 to resume duties as associate pastor at Our Lady Queen of Poland.

Fr. Dzida was a member of the Society of Christ for Polish Migrants, a congregation of about 500 priests, brothers and seminarians dedicated to serving Poles outside of Poland.

At Our Lady Queen of Poland, Fr. Dzida had dedicated himself to youth and family ministry. He also maintained the parish’s social media outreach on Facebook.

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