December 27, 2002
Funeral Service Celebrated for Former Superior General, Rev. Fidelis Grabowski, MIC
The liturgy of Christian burial was celebrated on December 27, 2002, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A., for Rev. Fidelis Grabowski who passed away December 21 at the age of 85. Very Rev. Fr. Mark Garrow, MIC, Superior General, was the celebrant along with the main concelebrants, Very Rev. Fr. Walter M. Dziordz, MIC, Provincial Superior, and Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC, Vice Provincial.
Described as a “simple, humble man, with a fire for Christ,” Fr. Garrow spoke warmly of the beloved priest known not only for his leadership and spirituality but for his great love of nature and the outdoors. “The key to Fr. Fidelis,” noted Fr. Garrow, “is that he was a man of faith. He had a mind and heart illumined by faith and he conveyed that faith to others.”
Originally from Evanston, IL, Fr. Grabowski was born April 14, 1917. He joined the Marians at the age of 18 and was ordained a priest on May 22, 1945. Upon graduating from the Catholic University, Fr. Grabowski continued his seminary studies at the Marist Seminary in Washington, DC where he received his Licentiate degree in theology.
Soon after ordination, he was appointed director of the Marian High School Seminary in Washington, DC, and was then appointed superior of the Marian heologate in 1947. In 1951, he was elected Vicar Provincial and reappointed as superior of the Marian Theologate. In addition to these responsibilities, he was Novice Master. For 25 years, he served the Province in that capacity and directed the formation of young men in their preparation for permanent membership in the Marian community.
In 1975, Fr. Fidelis was elected Provincial Superior of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Province in Stockbridge. He held this post until his election to the post of Superior General in 1981. These years were marked by Fr. Grabowski’s willingness to give rein to his provincial councilors, thus promoting a truly collegial spirit of government in keeping with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, which called for the renewal of the Catholic Church and its institutions.
In 1981, he was elected Superior General, succeeding Fr. Joseph Sielski, MIC. In November 1984, after only three and one-half years of his six-year term, Fr. Grabowski resigned due to poor health. During his term, he insisted that Marian missionaries, then serving in Brazil, also focus on formation in order to foster indigenous vocations there to the Congregation. Today native vocations to the Marians are flourishing in Brazil.
During his later years, as his health allowed, he would celebrate Mass, hear confessions, provide spiritual direction, and spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. He also assisted the late Br. Alphie Gagne, MIC, at the Marian Helpers Center in pasting savings stamps into books for redemption to raise funds for renovations to the Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge.
A great lover of nature, Fr. Fidelis was an avid bird watcher and an amateur botanist, geologist, and astronomer. He loved to take walks and hikes and knew well the woods and fields on Eden Hill. He also had a great sense of humor and enjoyed reading.
“Father Fidelis was a simple man, characterized by a great deal of common sense, in turn, rooted in his strong awareness of God,” said Dziordz. “He has always been regarded as our most spiritual member. For years he was Novice Master in the Province. In this action alone, anyone can witness the trust that the Province had toward Fr. Fidelis–indeed, the conviction that this was a man who could form younger men in the spiritual life. In the end, his depth of spirituality was obvious to all.”
Fr. Grabowski was buried near the woods he loved in the Marian Community Cemetery on Eden Hill. Fr. Roesch led the burial prayer service.
The Marians of the Immaculate Conception are a religious congregation of over 600 priests and brothers serving in 18 countries around the world. In the worldwide Marian Congregation, there are two provinces in the U.S.: the St. Stanislaus Kostka Province with its headquarters in Stockbridge, MA, and the St. Casimir Province, which has its headquarters in Chicago, IL.