Catholic Free Press

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  • Oct
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The question – Teacher or Priest? The answer – Priest

Posted By October 6, 2014 | 12:42 pm | Featured Article #4

By Mairgread Gray
CFP Correspondent

WEBSTER – If he had to live his life over, he would do it the same way – with no regrets.  So said Father Charles Edward John Borowski, 73, who retired three years ago this June. In May he celebrated 48 years in the priesthood.  He is looking forward to celebrating 50 years as a priest.
Father Borowski was ordained May 19, 1966.  He graduated from Bartlett High School and then graduated from St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake, Michigan.  St. Mary’s had a preparatory school, the college, and a seminary called Sts. Cyril and Methodius.  It was here that he attended seminary.
He said he felt called to the priesthood on his first Communion day in 1950.  He was in the fourth grade.  “I felt a strange attraction to the altar,” he said.  He was attending St. Joseph School and Church.  Father Borowski kept this feeling in mind all through high school.  William Branch, Bartlett’s guidance counselor, encouraged him to see what he wanted to do – be a teacher or be a priest.  His parish priest told him he could try it and see.  He would have four years of college and four years of theology.
Father Borowski laughed as he recalled his high school classmates jokingly calling him “Holy Man,” and asking if he would hear their confessions.
He graduated from St. Mary’s in 1962.  While in college he majored in philosophy.  He worked part-time as the secretary to the dean.  He also was editor of the college yearbook.  St. Mary’s prepared him to work with Polish-speaking people in the Worcester Diocese; Father Borowski speaks Polish fluently.  Then, he attended seminary and studied theology.
His first parish was in 1966 at Our Lady of Czestochowa in Worcester, also known as St. Mary’s.  He taught religion and Polish in the high school.  Five priests were there at the time. While he was at Our Lady of Czestochowa, he was asked to return and teach at Orchard Lake.
“I taught at St. Mary’s Preparatory School for five years,” recalled Father Borowski.  “I enjoyed my teaching, and I was Dean of Men for two years.”
“In 1974, I had to decide, do I want to teach or be a parish priest.  I decided to be a parish priest,” he said.  He was still affiliated with the Worcester Diocese.  But before he became a parish priest, he worked in other situations.
celebrate-logoHe worked as a chaplain at Providence House in Southbridge, Worcester and Millbury.  He said it was good experience relating to the people.  When Father Borowski celebrated 25 years as a priest, in 1991, he was still a chaplain at Providence House.
The celebration took place in St. Joseph Church, Webster, (the church became a basilica in October 1998) with residents of the nursing home who could attend, coming.  They, family and friends filled the church.  The nursing home residents enjoyed themselves so much that they did not want to return to Providence House, Father Borowski was told.
The first time he became a pastor was at St. Joseph Parish in Gardner.  He then went on to St. Paul and St. Thomas churches in Warren.  He also was asked to come to St. Stanislaus in Warren.
“I ended up at St. Hedwig’s Church in Southbridge for 12 years, and I retired from there,” Father Borowski said.  “I’ve had varied experiences, and enjoyed every minute of it.
“For 28 years, from 1981 to 2009, every Thursday, I invited people to come and pray for vocations.  We had various prayers, readings from Scripture, and we prayed the rosary.  We prayed that God would call people in the diocese to be priests and religious.
“God has been good to me, I’m still living, and able to take care of myself (he has had serious health issues for years).  I’ve enjoyed these three years of retirement.”
He laughed when he said he is still unpacking from 12 years at St. Hedwig’s.  He is now living in the family home where he was born.  He has a sister, Dolores, 80, who lives in Shrewsbury, and a brother who passed away eight years ago.
He has a dog, German shepherd mix, named Bailey, and some cats he inherited from the Southbridge church.  “I’ve always had a dog, and Bailey takes me for a walk every day.  I like to putter around  the yard, and planted vegetables this year.”
Even though Father Borowski is retired, he is the weekend assistant at St. Joseph Basilica.  He was baptized, confirmed, went to elementary school there; his parents were married and buried there.  “It is truly a blessing from God to be at St. Joseph,” he said.
“My experience in the nursing home was great.  They had faith – and they helped to increase my faith in God.  In spite of my health issues, I see the hand of God in my life.  Without any question!”


Father Ryan experiences family life

By Christina Galeone
CFP Correspondent

In Romans 8:28, the Apostle Paul proclaims: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” In 1990, Marianne Lauria, a loving, devoted 34-year old mom, passed away from a brain aneurysm. Her brother faced the tragedy by fulfilling her wishes that he take care of her children. He did this while fulfilling his calling as a Catholic priest.
Soon after Father Edward M. Ryan, who was then associate pastor at St. Bernard’s Parish in Fitchburg, learned of his sister’s passing, four of her children (ages 5 to 13) contacted him. “They came to me,” Father Ryan says. “My sister told them, ‘If anything ever happens to me, you go to your Uncle Mickey, and he’ll take care of you.’ And I did.”  John, the fifth child, had severe cerebral palsy and needed special care.
But providing a good home for four children, while a priest, was an uphill battle for the pastor who was then in his 40s. Not only did he have to convince the Worcester judicial system to grant him custody, he also had to convince the Worcester Diocese to allow him to remain in ministry as a priest. He says the Diocese told him he should take a leave of absence and find a job, which, to him, meant that he would have to leave the priesthood. Fortunately, a priest friend, who Father Ryan met when he was a missionary in Ecuador, came to his assistance, advocating for him to maintain his vocation.

Posing for a family photo with Father Ryan, in the back row are, left to right, Ryan Lauria, Michael John Lauria and Colleen Lauria.  In the front row are John Lauria and Mary Lauria.

Posing for a family photo with Father Ryan, in the back row are, left to right, Ryan Lauria, Michael John Lauria and Colleen Lauria.  In the front row are John Lauria and Mary Lauria.

celebrate-logoAfter winning custody, Father Ryan rented an apartment and became a chaplain at UMass Hospital. He admits that balancing his commitment to the priesthood with his commitment to the children was difficult. Despite that, he says he was determined to give them a good home by doing things most families do. That included taking them to restaurants, bringing them to swimming lessons and having designated family time once a week. He says, “Basically, what you did; you were around for them.”
As far as parenting philosophy is concerned, Father Ryan cherishes the words of his sister. Because she watched two of her children struggle with cerebral palsy, and because she lost a baby to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, he asked her once if she ever felt discouraged. “She said, ‘Alls my kids need is a little more love than the others,’” he recalls. “I never forgot those words.  And I live by them – ‘Alls my kids need is a little more love.’”
Although Colleen and Mary, who were 13 and 12 respectively in 1990, went to live with their father after about a year, Ryan, the youngest girl (who was 11 at the time), and Michael, the oldest boy (who was 5 then), were raised by Father Ryan for many years.
Besides providing a home for the children, Father Ryan learned to appreciate how parents juggle work and family.
“You learn patience,” he says. “You learn how the other half lives. Things happen in a hurry. You just look at what’s best for the kids, not you. What’s best for the kids?”
Although Father Ryan, who recently celebrated his 40th anniversary as a priest, wishes the tragedy never happened, he is happy he was able to care for his nieces and nephew and keep them safe. He is thankful they’re doing well.
“It was a great experience,” he says, as proud as any parent. “I would do it again.”