Fr. Karol Zynel
July 7, 2014
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
Welcoming is the first word that springs to people's lips when they talk about Father Karol Zynel.
"He was the one who welcomed priests coming to the archdiocese," says Father Mitch Fidyka.
The two priests met 29 years ago when Zynel came to the Edmonton Archdiocese.
"What was special about him," says Fidyka, "was that he was loved both by the priests and by the people."
Zynel died June 17 at age 81. Born Jan. 6, 1933, and ordained to the priesthood on June 21, 1959, for the Archdiocese of Bialystok, Poland, Zynel came to the Edmonton Archdiocese in March 1974.
He served at various parishes for 25 years until his retirement in 1999. He continued to assist in parishes, celebrating the sacraments until 2006, when he returned to Bialystok, Poland, to live at a home for retired priests.
Zynel's funeral was held June 20 in the Catholic parish of Wisilkowie, Poland.
Fidyka's warmth for his fellow priest continues as he reiterates, "In the parish he was one of the most likeable priests you could imagine."
However, this affability could prove a problem for priests who took over when Zynel was moved to another parish. "Some priests who came to parishes he had presided over said, 'It was not easy to replace him. People liked him so very much.'"
Being a priest was all-consuming for Zynel.
"He usually did not take any holidays," says Fidyka. "He was in the parish all the time. Maybe he went a few times on his holidays back to Poland and that's all. He took one sabbatical and he stayed there in the parish all the time."
The compassionate priest also took the young priests and seminarians under his wing. "Quite often, if there was a young priest, he went to the seminary to encourage him," says Fidyka.
GUIDANCE AND CARING
Father Marc Cramer was one priest who benefited from Zynel's guidance and caring.
"What stuck with me (because of him), impressed me in my priesthood, is the importance of being reverent for what is going on. It helps people to see Christ that way.
"He was the one who welcomed me into the Church. He brought me back into the Church. So I did daily Mass mostly at St. Andrew's and Sunday Mass there sometimes as well.
"He impressed me with the importance of the Eucharist. It was not so much what he said; it was what he did."
Priests generally take Mondays off. Not Zynel.
"He never took Monday off," says Fidyka. "He didn't cancel the Eucharist even on Mondays."
He also made time for the priests' Monday socials. "He played cards, pinochle, with the priests," says Fidyka.
He laughs. "He had the intention to win all the time."
Fast on the heels of telling of his being a welcoming priest, Fidyka tells of Zynel's love for the Eucharist. "His life and love depended on the Eucharist."
ALWAYS FOUND TIME
Zynel never neglected his parishioners.
"If you visited him in the parish, he'd always find time," remembers Fidyka. "Others always seem to be busy, busy. He welcomed you into the parish."
Morning coffee followed Mass, and Zynel would "follow those people and have coffee with them after Mass."
Ask about Zynel's taking part in sports and Fidyka laughs, "Not even walking.
"He'd say, 'No. I have such a comfortable chair.'"
While he was in that chair, Zynel read avidly.
"Like the majority of all of us priests, in the beginning he would read it all," says Fidyka. "Later on, he narrowed it down to biography and history."
He pauses and then Fidyka says, "He was a good priest to all of us."