Father Mieczysław Paszkiewicz
2 October 2021
Father Mieczysław Paszkiewicz was born on March 20th, 1900, in Wasiliszki to Leonard Paszkiewicz and Justyna, née Tabeński. He had six brothers and two sisters. They were brought up according to Catholic and patriotic traditions. Many of the future priest’s ancestors took part in the January Uprising [Polish: Powstanie styczniowe] and were exiled to Siberia; all of Paszkiewicz’s brothers were Polish Army officers.
In 1912 the family moved to Worniany (small village in Belarus), where Paszkiewcz finished primary school and then privately prepared for further education. In 1914, he enrolled in a secondary school in Vilnius and after a year transferred to a state secondary school in Święciany. In 1915, Paszkiewicz had to abandon his education due to the German army invading the area. The Paszkiewicz family was split up as the older brothers and sisters left for St. Petersburg, while the rest of the family, including Mieczysław, stayed behind. There was fighting between the Germans and Russians soldiers near Worniany, and as a result Paszkiewicz was unable to continue his education. It would become possible after Poland regained its independence. In 1919 Mieczysław moved to Warsaw, where he lived with his brothers. In 1924 he graduated from Kazimierz Kulwieć Secondary School in Warsaw.
In 1925, Mieczysław Paszkiewicz entered the Vilnus St. Joseph Seminary and at the same time studied Theology at the Stefan Batory University (nowadays: Vilnus University), where he was awarded his master’s degree in Canon Law in 1931 based on thesis entitled “Obstacle conditionis servilis in the Roman and Church legislation up to the Council of Trent” [Polish: Przeszkoda conditionis servilis w prawodastwie rzymskim I kościelnym do Soboru Trydenckiego], written under the supervision of Father Professor Bronisław Żongołowicz.
Mieczysław Paszkiewicz was ordained a priest on April 4th, 1931, by Archbishop Romuald Jałbrzykowski. He celebrated his first Mass in the Chapel of St. Casimir in the Vilnius Cathedral and his first assignment was to the parish in Słobódka, where he worked for only three months before being transferred to Ashmyany, a large parish with more than 11,000 faithful. There he became a prefect in the secondary school and elementary school, as well as a vicar in the parish ministry. In 1934, Father Paszkiewicz was given an independent post in Mickūnai near Vilnius.
In May 1936, with the permission of Archbishop Jałbrzykowski, Father Paszkiewicz became chaplain to the Polish Army. First, he worked as a chaplain at a hospital in Poznań, at the same time taking pastoral care of the 3rd Airforce Regiment in Poznań, after which he took the post of the pastor of St. Florian’s Church in Praga, district of Warsaw and auxiliary churches in Rembertów and Wesoła.
After the outbreak of the war, he ministered during the Invasion of Poland (also known as the September Campaign). On October 3th, 1939, Father Paszkiewicz was arrested by Germans and imprisoned in the Pawiak as a hostage, where he remained until October 22th, 1939.
Having left prison, he became chaplain to the Franciscan Sisters Servants of the Cross in Laski [Polish: Zgromadzenie Sióstr Franciszkanek Służebnic Krzyża w Laskach], and later in Żukowo near Lublin. In the years 1941-1943 he was a teacher at the orphanage of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary in Białołęka Dworska, however because of the threat of arrest, he moved to the parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Warsaw, where at the same time, as chaplain of the active service, he was involved in the conspiratorial activity of the Union of Armed Struggle – the Home Army, bearing the codenames Ignacy and Ignacy Haczyk.
Once the Warsaw Uprising broke out, he served as dean of the Home Army’s Warsaw District. He celebrated masses at 12 Poznańska Street at a field altar with a cross made out of burned wooden beams. Those services were meant to uphold the spirits of those fighting and to strengthen the faith in final victory. The Mass of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary went down in history, as recalled by nurse Barbara Lenard: “I remember the solemn atmosphere of the field mass on August 15th, in the courtyard of a large block of flats at 12 Poznańska Street. We were standing by the walls – the combat units, liaison officers and us, the sanitary service. The altar on the wall of the building with a huge cross made out of two burnt beams, an accordion instead of an organ and a tall figure of the priest in front of the altar, and a noise of machine guns in the distance. At some point there was a powerful explosion somewhere nearby, then we heard a swish and a black, jagged shrapnel fell at the priest’s feet, who was facing us with the words ‘Dominus vobiscum’. The priest did not flinch and did not stop the Mass….”
During the Warsaw Uprising, Father Paszkiewicz was promoted to the rank of major and then to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was awarded the Cross of Valour. Towards the end of the uprising, Father Stefan Kowalczyk, the chief chaplain, appointed Father Paszkiewicz as his deputy.
After the fall of the Warsaw Uprising, Father Paszkiewicz first stayed in Milanówek, and in December 1944 he was appointed chaplain of the Home Army’s Częstochowa District. In May 1945, he moved to Poznań.
During the German occupation, Father Paszkiewicz conducted scientific research and was awarded PhD on the basis of a dissertation written under the supervision of Father Professor Zygmunt Kozubski entitled “Chaplaincy of the Sick in Hospitals” [Polish: Duszpasterstwo chorych w szpitalach].
After the war, in the years 1945-1946, Mieczysław Paszkiewicz was a prefect in the Fr. Piotr Skarga Secondary School in Szamotuły. Later he became the parish administrator of Sobota, and then a prefect in the School of Commerce and Industry in Poznań. Also, he was offered the opportunity to work with the editors of the “Pastoral News” [Polish: Wiadomości Duszpasterskie], where he led the homiletics section and published his own articles.
In 1949 Father Paszkiewicz moved to Białystok to teach patrology, theology of internal life, homiletics and Church history at the Archdiocesan School of Theology in Białystok [Polish: Archidiecezjalne Wyższe Seminarium Duchowne w Białym stoku]. He performed many other functions there in the years 1952-1964. He was: the prefect of the seminary, the father confessor of the alumni, the archdiocesan father confessor, the censor of church records, the archdiocesan director of the Apostolic Union of Clergy, a member of the Priests’ Council, the father confessor of the Theological-Pastoral Institute. He died on August 24th, 1987. He was buried at a cemetery in Białystok.
Translate: Zuzanna Zapadka
- Tadeusz Krahel, Ksiądz prałat Mieczysław Paszkiewicz. W 20-tą rocznicę śmierci, “W służbie miłosierdzia” 8 (2007), nr 8
- Jan Walkusz, Kościół w Polsce, t. 14, Lublin 2015, p. 208-2011
- Powstańcza msza święta 2019, Warszawa 2019 (National Remembrance Institute’s brochure)