Saturday, December 30, 2023

(287) Fr. Joseph Kowalcyzk (1927-2019): From GE Electrical Engineer to the Maryknoll Missionaries in Perú


 Fr. Joseph Kowalczyk M.M.

        He died a priest, a holy priest, who gave his life to God.......all 92 years of it until his death in 2019.     Fr. Joe was on the road to success as our secular world knows it.  He was part of the “Great Generation” who won World War II, having finished his voluntary enlistment toward the end of the war as a Seaman First Class in the U.S. Navy, specializing in the then new radar technology before discharge in 1946.  Taking advantage of the GI Bill and graduating as an electrical engineer from Union College, He applied his skills working for General Electric as an engineer for six years.  He also did his part over the years as a member of the Knights of Columbus.  

        During that time he felt a calling to something much be a missionary priest for the Lord and His Church, beginning his studies for the priesthood in 1954. 

        On June 10, 1961 Fr. Joe completed his studies at the Maryknoll major seminary in Ossining, NY and was ordained to the priesthood .  The traditional bell clanged, calling each newly ordained missionary priest to his assignment all over the world, be it Taiwan, Korea, Cambodia, Kenya, Africa, or South America. 

       Fr. Joe was called to Peru and that's where I first met him in my assignment as a lay missioner (the Papal Volunteers for Latin America or PAVLA) as a chemistry professor at the Universidad Católica de Santa María en Arequipa, the second largest city of Perú, dominated by a majestic 19,000 ft. volcano, Misti, and two huge mountains, the snow covered Chachani (23,000 ft.) and Pichu Pichu.  PAVLA was somewhat similar to the Peace Corps, but sent by the Catholic Church of the United States in response to the call of St. Pope John XXIII for priests and lay volunteers to help the Church in Latin America as requested by the local bishops.

       After being sent to the Spanish language school in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Fr. Joe was helping out at the Nuestra Señora del Pilar parish church, but was allowed to teach Physics and Church Social teaching at our university founded by Fr. William Morris, a Marianist priest from St. Louis.  Fr. Bill could not pass up recruiting a former GE electrical engineer to teach at the Universidad Católica de Santa María.  It seems that the Lord so often uses people of diverse talents and skills to do His work. 

       We both worked to form science teachers.  Bob Relyea, a Peace Corps Volunteer and devout Evangelical Christian, completed the gringo team in teaching Math.  He later returned to Arequipa as a missionary himself.  It was a joy to have Fr. Joe as my confessor in my own language at la Parroquia del Pilar where he was also assigned. 

   Fr. Joe was a kind, gentle, humble, and compassionate priest.  Any donations he received from stateside benefactors would go to the poor, particularly impoverished families.

Three generations of a Peruvian family Fr. Joe worked with in Perú.

         He served at different missions in southern Peru.......Puno, Juli, Arequipa, and Tacna.  He even learned the Indian language Aymara in which he heard confessions.  Later he was reassigned to head a house of formation for seminarians who studied at the Católica.  There I had the opportunity to meet his seminarians when he invited me to have dinner with them.  Occasionally, he would take a break to be with nature, traveling upstream along the Rio Chili to fish.

      In 1968-69 I took leave to obtain a Master's Degree in Business Administration at the University of Pittsburgh.  After being so active in Peru, it was so confining to be a student again.  I craved having contact with the people I worked with in Peru.  Fr. Joe was a godsend.  During a time when it was so costly to call abroad, he communicated with his friends and family in the United States via a phone patch on his ham radio station.  The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) had a student ham radio station; so it was very convenient.  Every Wednesday we would have a conversation.......ham radio station to ham radio station. 

One of the families of his parish in Tacna, Perú close to the border with Chile.  When retired in the U.S., he kept in contact with them via Skype and by occasional visits.

Fr. James Stefaniak (left),  flanked by Fr. Philip Erbland, M.M and Fr. Joseph Kowalcyzk on the right.  Both helped to set up parishes in Tacna, Peru.  Fr. Stefianiak died in December 2012 after 62 years serving the Lord as a Maryknoll missioner.

   I was back in Peru teaching Chemistry, Methodology of Science Teaching, and Business.  Meanwhile Fr. Joe was transferred back to the Altiplano (a 12,000 ft. plain along Lake Titicaca) and to Tacna on the south Pacific coast.  In 1979 my father died with my mother being alone with my sick brother, Fred.  I had to return to the United States.  I taught at Franciscan University of Steubenville until 1983 when I began work on a doctorate in Business at Kent State University.

 Fr. Joseph Kowalczyk M.M. is flanked by a group of faithful he worked with in San Jose, CA.

      In 1986 Fr. Joe was doing Maryknoll promotion work and invited me to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination.  He was recruiting Polish Americans for the order.  I said:  “I have a friend who is a real live Pole and she's considering becoming a missionary nurse and nun”.  So I brought her along.  Jaga met Fr. Joe's mother and they spoke Polish together.  I arranged with my friends among the sisters to take her on a tour of the convent.  Later Jaga said: “I don't think I want to become a nun.  My reaction was: “YES!”  I did my part to encourage any vocation she might have had.    We became closer friends than ever.  We got married in 1988 and 35 years, four kids, five grand children you know the rest of the story.

      In 2011 Fr. Joe was a retired priest residing at Maryknoll, NY and it was time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination and also the 100th anniversary of the founding of Maryknoll (see  Maryknollers – A Century Spreading the Gospel And the Role of Each One of Us) at      

         This time two of our four children (Stephanie & Joseph) came with Jaga and me.  It was a joy celebrating with Fr. Joe and his extended family.  We had the privilege of sitting in on the liturgy of the hours done by Fr. Joe and  a group of younger priests, some of whom wore the traditional cassock.  All of this gave me hope for the future of the Church along  with the prayer groups that are still persevering; namely, the Nucleus of Divine Mercy, the Legion of Mary, and the Marian Movement of Priests.                                                                                                                                          As a bonus we met my dear friend, Sr. Maria Colabella (R.I.P. See Sr. Maria Colabella: From Papal Volunteer to Maryknoll Missionary..........An Instrument of God That Communicated His Love on Three Continents

    She invited us for dinner at the Maryknoll convent and it was a wonderful reunion with my former student, Sr. Elizabeth Roach of Pittsburgh (,  and, and others I worked with in Peru.  Furthermore, we took side trips to the New York Art Gallery and the West Point Military Academy.  Sr. Elizabeth wrote a number of children’s books about the missions available on                 

        In his later years Fr. Joe suffered from arthritis in his hip, back, and knee which was replaced.  His attitude was “Fiat” (let it be done) as he offered it all to the Lord as redemptive suffering for the conversion of sinners as Mary had requested at Fatima.  He had a strong devotion to Mary and Divine Mercy upon whom world peace depends.   

        We were already talking about Fr. Joe's 60th anniversary, but he was two years short. In his late November Christmas Newsletter of 2019 Padre José foresaw his death with faith, trust, and resignation.  A couple weeks later he did depart from us and is laid to rest at the Maryknoll Cemetery among the many heroes of the Society, among them martyrs and the hundreds of other Men of Maryknoll who gave their lives to Christ as missionaries around the world.  We miss you, Padrecito; thank you so much for all those years you served God, the Church, and us so faithfully.  Before long we'll all be together again for one glorious reunion in eternity.  Let's all make sure that we get there



Fr. Joseph Kowalczyk Obituary (1927-2019)

   Maryknoll Missioner (92) to Peru, Father Joseph W. Kowalczyk died on December 15, 2019, at Phelps Memorial Hospital, Tarrytown, NY. He was 92 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 58 years.

 Joseph William Kowalczyk was born in Schenectady, NY on March 22, 1927, to Joseph and Stefania Kaczmarczyk Kowalczyk. Father Kowalczyk is survived by his brother George Kowalczyk, of Hanover, PA; two sisters, Blanche Prudent of Fort Smith, AR and Regina Weishet of Naples, FL; and several nieces and nephews He was predeceased by his sister, Emily Grzybowski of Schenectady, NY. He was a parishioner at St. Adalbert's Church. Joseph attended Draper Grammar School and graduated from Draper High School in 1943.


   During the World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged in August 1946. Resuming his studies, he graduated from Union College in June 1948 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He worked for the General Electric Company for six years. In June 1954, he joined Maryknoll, and he was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 1961, and assigned to the Peru Region.


   After 20 years in Peru, Father Kowalczyk returned to the U.S. in 1981.  In January 1985.  he returned to Peru.  From June 1996 to the end of 1997, he served as Vicar General under Bishop Hugo Garaycoa in the Diocese of Tacna and Moquegua. 


   In March 2002, Father Kowalczyk was given retirement status with residency in the Maryknoll Residence in Los Altos, CA, where he lived and served part time on Mission Promotion appeals and as Spiritual Director. In June 2014, Father moved to the Society Center at Maryknoll, NY.


   In 2019, Father Kowalczyk was appointed to the Pastoral Visitors Team. A Rosary and wake service will be held at 4 p.m. on December 22, 2019, in the Holy Spirit Chapel at the Maryknoll Society Center. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on December 23, 2019 at 11 a.m., and will be concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel. Burial will be followed in Maryknoll Society Cemetery with Father Raymond Finch conducting the graveside service.

Published by The Daily Gazette Co. on Dec. 21, 2019.

Monday, October 30, 2023

(286) Giving Glory to God with Flowers That He Himself Designed and Created


“Prayer is a way of doing instantaneous good for all things in all places.  It’s a way of sending out love everywhere at once…….Prayer makes everything you do more real, lasting, meaningful, and faihful.  Through prayer, everything just flowers and flows” (Robert Lax, a noted poet).

A photo of our beautiful church garden with three dogwood trees. It features our Mother Mary in the month of her Holy Rosary with our church hall in the background.  Zinnias, begonias, roses, chrysanthemums, and common mums  surround Mary.  As of October 30 the flowers are still doing well. 

      Beauty and a beautiful ambient facilitate prayer and we’ve provided that in the renovation of our church, the flowers at the main entrance next to the statue of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, the garden outside, the St. Francis Peace Garden on the other side of the rectory & church office, and the cemetery as we pray for our deceased loved ones near their final resting places on this side of eternity.  Hopefully, all of that is giving us pride in our parish that will help to make us more faithful to God and His Church.
This photo shows the statue of an early Church martyr, St. Philomena, a donation of another former grand knight, DJ Stapleton.  The rectory and church office is to the right of the statue.

  For years our former grand knight, Bruce Davison, has grown and sold flowers and tree seedlings in his green house.  Now he is devoting much of his retirement to glorifying God with his gardening and landscaping within our parish: During our interview, he reflected: “All the beauty in the flowers around the church and the cemetery are but a pale, pale, pale, pale reflection of the beauty and the glory that God has waiting for us in Heaven.  Everytime we look at the flowers we can relflect on the beauty of God”.  Let’s make sure that we all get there!

    The garden has a variety of flowers, including day lillies, blackberry lillies, oriental lilllies, marigods, mums, roses, begonias, dwarf  zinnias, laurels, purple sages, purple cone flowers, salvias, hostias, iris, columbines, echnecias, etc.

    The garden also includes the St. Francis Peace Garden, the cemetery gardens, and even the mini-garden at the entrance of the church. 

The flowers at the cemetery provide an ambient for people visiting the graves of their loved ones, encouraging reflextion and prayer for their souls.  The banister is reminscent of the stairs to the paradise of Heaven.  Here we see red Zinnias and yellow marigolds.

    Davison’s goal is to make this an all season garden, bigger and better every year.  Last Fall Kathryn Marchi contributed Mums.  The winter features evergreens and the Spring features the lenten rose and the blossoms of the dogwood tree shown in the photo on the far right.  So as we say goodby to summer and hello Fall and Winter, keep observing our beautiful church and cemetery gardens during the coming seasons.

This photo shows the gazebo of the cemetery that houses cremated remains; Masses are said there as well as the final prayers before burial of the deceased. 

    Many have contributed to the beauty inside and outside of our church in time, talent, and treasure, reminding us of a biblical verse (1 Cor 3:6-8).  Bruce ordered and planted the seeds; Remy Simon, a little flower herself, added water; Karen Stapleton and Jan Davison did weeding; Josh Davison helped; and God made it all grow.  

    The Lord, of course, is the artist that designed the flowers when He created the world.  Some of the flowers have a connection to our Faith.  The four petals of the Spring blossom of the dogwood tree seem to simulate the wounds of the crucified Christ’s wrists and feet.  It seems that the rose is Mary’s favorite flower.  The marigold flower is named after her.  St. Joseph is often pictured holding a lilly which symbolizes purity.

This photo depicts St. John and our Mother Mary grieving at the crucifixion of her Son, the same as we grieve for the loss of our loved ones and anticipate our own deaths.  Are you ready?  Make sure that we all get there!  Brother knight Chris Davison and his brother Pat did much of the work in planting and caring for the flowers.  Brother knights Matt Bokovitz, Bruce Davison, Mike Merry, Butch Leport, Larry Angel, Allen White and his son, Alex as well as others have also worked with the maintenance of the cemetery.  

     Many with different gifts, talents, and skills have worked together in providing that beauty both inside and outside of our little church, be it with flowers or carpentry.  It’s such a privilege to help to beautify God’s house. 

Whenever you plant flowers in your garden at home, do it for the glory of God.  Placing a statue of Mary, the Sacred Heart, or St. Francis or a cross would be a bonus for meditation and prayer as you walk through and enjoy your own garden.  Bruce and/or his son Josh could give you tips.  Josh does landscaping for a living.    

Our New Pews. After having Mass in our Parish Hall for several months because of renovations to the main church, we finally returned.  The old pews were falling apart, but  providentially a church which was closing down in Portsmouth gave us their pews.  It was a job renting a truck and hauling all of those pews to Gallipolis.  Only problem was that they would not fit into the church.  Fr. Hamm our pastor mobilized the men to solve the problem.  They cut the pews and kneelers to size……an all day job of exquisite carpentry.  After applying lacquer, the pews looked beautiful like they were brand new.  In addition to Mike McConnell, Terry Madden, and Bill Griffith, several of our brother knights were front and center......Mike Dressel, Mike Merry, Mike Ours, Matt Bokovitz, and Keith Elliott.  The women were not to be denied the privilege of serving in the clean-up: Kitty Griffith, Pam Withrow Dovyak, Merry Stapleton, Wendy Nance, Margo Marizon, Patty Hays, and Trudy Linder.  Thanks for giving your day to our church.

       Our thanks to Mary Ann Bokovitz for taking the pictures and Bruce & Jan Davison for the depth that they gave to this article.   

Sunday, September 3, 2023

(285) Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly Boldly Describes What the Knights of Columbus Are All About.......Its Mission, What It Stands For, Its Activities


    For many years the Knights of Columbus were often more secular than spiritual, a Catholic version of national organizations that serve the community and feature fellowship.  The spiritual elements were there, but it was not emphasized as it should have been.  However, under Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and his successor Patrick E. Kelly, the Knights of Columbus have become more spiritual and have had a stronger influence in the Church and in the popular culture.  In the recent national convention, the current Supreme Knight, Patrick E. Kelly boldly described what the Knights of Columbus are all about. and what it stands his report/speech to those attending and millions of viewers on EWTN television, the internet at, and other outlets.

Supreme Knight Patrick E. Kelly making his annual report to the the 141st Supreme Convention August 1-3 in Orlando, FL  He urged the 2300 knights attending and up to 2 million other knights all over the world watching on EWTN television and internet ( to respond to their baptismal calling and advance the Order's mission, pointing the world to Christ, aspiring that the Knights of Columbus be first in faith and first in charity. 

FIRST IN FAITH.  “As Knights, what we do reflects who we are.  We are faithful Catholics —  and disciples of Jesus Christ.”  Blessed Father Michael McGivney, our founder, “gave us one mission — to follow Christ. And he called us to fulfill it through faith and charity.”  

We must be credible witnesses to a living faith; our charity must evangelize; we must stand for the truth without apology without counting the costWe must “point the world to Jesus Christ who is the light that shines in the darkness and He will shine through the Knights of Columbus.” 

We are all called to be missionaries in little or big ways as opportunities arise in the New Evangelization.  For photos and details of the Supreme Convention as well as the complete both oral and written text of the Supreme Knight’s report, go to  Below are some of the highlights as a summary.

   Forming Catholic men must be our top priority……..If we get the man right, we get everything right — the marriage, the family, the parish, the community. We need men who say “yes” to their God-given vocation. And we know what happens when men respond in faith.”  Having re-consecrated the order to Our Lady of Guadalupe, we must say “yes’ to Our Lady’s message of God’s redemptive love.”   

    The order is continuing with a new initiative called “Cor” which is focused on prayer, formation and fraternity.  It is open to knights and non-knights alike.  Its goal is to help men to become better husbands, fathers, and Catholics.  

    To that end, the order is introducing its first-ever Bible Study called “Men of the Word” designed specifically for Catholic men.  “When it comes to deepening our faith, nothing is more effective than the Word of God”. This Bible Study will bring Scripture alive and it has the power to transform our lives. 

Furthermore, Supreme is preparing to debut a new video series on marriage, family and fatherhood. It follows the model of Into the Breach which has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times on EWTN Catholic television and at  You’ll find powerful testimonies and practical advice for living the faith as a family.  

According to one survey, only one third of parents care if their children remain Catholic.  That is the reason the Church is losing so many of its youth.  “A relationship with Christ is the greatest gift we can offer to the next generation”. 

The Knights of Columbus has a duty to help parents grow in their faith and pass it on to their children.  This is the goal of these videos along with the 75 year old Catholic Information Service.

 FIRST IN CHARITY.  “Reaching new depths of faith will take us to new heights of charity”.   He noted that “Mother Teresa shows us that faith leads to charity — and charity leads to faith.  

“In the Middle East, we continue to aid persecuted Christians. Without our work, some of the most ancient Christian communities might have disappeared forever. But they’re still here, and since 2014, we’ve provided more than $33 million to help them build for the future.”  

Since 2003 the knights have helped landmine victims in Afghanistan. Over the past two years, in partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission,  we’ve  given more than 127,000 wheelchairs, the gift of mobility to those in need.

During the past year, we helped our priests and seminarians with more than $3.7 million in scholarships and support; in the last five years alone, brother Knights have contributed over $21 million to Special Olympics plus helping hands and encouraging words.  

Finally, there’s Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids since 2009 to give children the gift of warmth in the coldest months. And this winter, we will distribute our one-millionth coat to a child in need. “When it comes to charity, we do much more than just donate money and goods. The time we give is even more meaningful”.

    When Hurricane Ian hit Florida, the knights were there; when Russia invaded Ukraine, the knights of the U.S., Ukraine, and especially Poland were there to help refugees and establish the Ukraine Solidarity Fund that raised $24 million stateside.  That help includes protecting Ukrainian as well as Filipino women from human trafficking.  

    “And to this day, I am struck by the words of Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv. Reflecting on Russian atrocities, His Beatitude spoke of the duty to cultivate love.  For as he said, “hatred gives birth to criminals, but love gives birth to heroes” and there are many in Ukraine.  

    “On behalf of the entire Order, I made a promise to that family and every refugee I met: You are not alone. We are with you.”  For more detail and background, see (263) Knights of Columbus Front and Center to Help Ukrainian Refugees and Victims of the War Plus Background for Understanding the War


(264) The War Rages On in Ukraine as Refugees Keep Coming and the Knights Keep Helping 


PATRIOTISM AND FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP.  “Our principle of charity compels us to serve the most vulnerable. And our principle of patriotism leads us to serve our country”……to defend freedom, to hold strong principles of human dignity, religious freedom, and equal justice — regardless of race, religion or nationality.  

“There is nothing hateful about the sanctity of marriage, the reality of biological sex, or the humanity of the unborn child. And the Knights of Columbus will never apologize for defending the truth! We stand for the truth because it’s right — even when it leads to ridicule and scorn.”  

We’ve endowed a new chair at the Columbus School of Law Catholic University of America.  The Knights of Columbus provides prayer books for the military, supports the training of chaplains, and since 2014 has sponsored the Warriors to Lourdes Pilgrimage for healing of active duty military and veterans.  See (265) Soldiers & Veterans From 40 Nations Make an Annual May Pilgrimage to Lourdes For Healing

INSURANCE AND INVESTMENTS.  The Knights of Columbus insurance program was originally established to protect widowed families.  For years it has received superior ratings from the rating agencies as one of the very best insurance organizations for financial soundness.  Any surplus goes to policy holders and Knights of Columbus charities, not stockholders.  

The Knights of Columbus also continues to help families secure their financial futures through mutual funds.   Members may also contribute to a Charitable Fund.  “Today, we manage more than $2.3 billion for Catholic families, religious communities, and dioceses.”   

       MEMBERSHIP.  “We now have more than 2,084,000 knights in 16,672 councils” (the largest lay Catholic men’s organization in the world), including Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Poland, Ukraine, France, the Philippines, Korea, 300 college councils and 100,000 men, who became members on-line.   

    “The Knights of Columbus invites men to greatness: to sacrifice themselves for the good of others; to commit to a higher call with a band of brothers; and to stand strong in the breach, side by side, instead of being swept away by the culture, one at a time…..And in a world that offers apathy and anger, we invite men to lives of meaning and mission.”     

      PRO-LIFE. The Knights of Columbus have now donated 1,745 ultra sound machines to pregnancy centers, making it easier for moms to choose life.  

Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly shows a woman being able to see her baby in utero through a KofC donated ultra sound machine at a pregnancy center.

    The Knights initiated the new ASAP (Aid and Support After Pregnancy) program with $6 million for pregnancy centers and maternity homes, caring for both mother and child before and after pregnancy.   Year after year the KofC is very much involved in the March For Life to “win more hearts, change more minds, and enshrine the  right to life in the laws of the land.”  Post-Roe v. Wade the battle continues state by state, particularly in Ohio this coming November.    

“Pope Francis called on the Knights of Columbus to continue advancing the Church’s mission.  This is a challenge we gladly accept. We will continue to take up the mission of evangelization — in our hearts and in our communities. And we will continue our mission of charity — a charity that evangelizes.”