CHESHIRE -- The congregation at Saint Mary of the Assumption is set to enjoy a perspective from abroad over the coming months.
Piotr Calik, 28, who hails from Krakow, Poland, became the church's new face on June 3, when he came to Saint Mary from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.
Calik is staying until Aug. 19, and intends to bolster his theological studies and church experience, along the path to his ordination as a priest.
"Even before my First Communion, I had the idea in my mind when I saw the inside of the church: It's not about the building it's about the people," Calik said. "Or at least this is what my mother says -- I would hope it's true."
Four years ago, Calik traveled to the U.S., joining Saint Cyril and Methodius Seminary, a Roman Catholic graduate school of theology in Orchard Lake, Mich.
Since then, he's been traveling the states, honing his English, and now, leading reflections Mondays and Fridays at the church and visiting the sick and elderly at local hospitals and nursing homes.
"I'm a city man -- this for me is like a vacation," Calik said. " ... But I'm taking it very seriously at this point. I have time to reflect on the priesthood, to travel to see friends, and for private prayer. ...The [local] people are very friendly. At home, you have the smaller villages surrounding the city, like here."
Calik said he's also writing a book about his experiences over the last four
David Raymond, the resident priest at Saint Mary, is impressed by his new student's ability to relate to his audience during reflections.
"He does a great job reflecting on the scriptures and integrating them into everyday life," Raymond said.
In Krakow, Calik entered culinary school at age 15, graduating at 21. He spent much of the following years cooking at restaurants in various hotel restaurants in Poland, including Novotel and Ibis, and was even offered a job at Sheraton Krakow Hotel, the premiere hotel in the country.
"This was my choice: Either be a chef at the most popular hotel in Poland, or the priesthood," Calik joked.
Calik's travels within the states are impressive, spanning from Florida to California -- including Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Washington D.C., and multiple hiking trips in Vermont.
Oddly enough, Calik is the church's second import from Poland of 2012. The former student, Daniel Cymer, was ordained into the priesthood at the beginning of the month.
Since being in Cheshire, Calik's had opportunity to meet several local fourth- and fifth-generation Poles in Adams, a town known for its Polish heritage.
Calik said his preaching style is to "read the gospel into daily life" and to "teach from the mind."
"I try to connect with people's lives," Calik said. "It's not always easy, because the priest's life is for the people he is serving. ... But I like listening to people, hearing their hopes and problems, and keeping them with me when I pray."
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