The following story appeared in the Jan. 29 issue of the Idaho Catholic Register.
Deacon Aleksander Dembowski (Courtesy photo)
If Deacon Adrian Leszko were part of an (American) football coaching staff, he would be the one traveling the country looking for four- and five-star recruits.
Deacon Leszko, along with help from others, was instrumental in helping to entice the latest recruit, Deacon Aleksander Dembowski, now in his final year of study at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in suburban Detroit, to choose to make the Diocese of Boise his home.
Last year, Deacon Leszko introduced Deacon Pawel Pawliszko to the Diocese. Both were ordained deacons in the Diocese of Boise last September.
“Credit has to be given especially to Deacon Adrian, who was the first one to take a chance visiting our Diocese, and, then, like the disciples of Christ, went back to the seminary preaching the ‘good news’ of Idaho to those with ears to hear,” said Father Nathan Dail, vocations director for recruitment for the Diocese of Boise.
All three are seminarians at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary. The seminary is a formation center of primarily Polish men who wish to serve the Church in North America. Because the seminary is not tied to any one diocese, seminarians not only discern their call to priesthood, but also where they will serve if they are ordained.
The three deacons’ decisions to serve the Diocese of Boise means that four men are scheduled to be ordained on June 3. Deacon Joshua Falce – the only non-Pole – is also set to be ordained that day. It has been over a decade – 2010 – since that many men were ordained in the Diocese of Boise. Six were ordained in 2008, including Father Mariusz Majewski, also a native of Poland and currently Rector at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
“Aleksander has an inspiring story,” Father Dail said. “He was ordained a deacon and ready for priestly ordination in Poland, but after seeing for himself how the priesthood is lived in America, he said he saw a light, a fire of the Holy Spirit in so many priests here that he’d never witnessed before. It just so happens that right when our Bishop was invoking the Holy Spirit upon our Diocese and especially our priests, that Aleksander reached out to us and said he was interested in our Diocese.”
Father Caleb Vogel, vocations director for seminarians and vicar general, went with Father Dail to meet Deacon Dembowski. “We were both impressed by his humility and sincerity and the transition (to our Diocese) was very smooth, another sign of God’s providence,” said Father Dail, who is also parochial vicar at All Saints Parish in Lewiston.
Deacon Aleksander Dembowski was born in Warsaw and grew up in MiÅ„sk Mazowiecki, a small city near the Polish capital.
He graduated from Salesian High School and then studied public relations, marketing and social communications at the University of Warsaw. He’s worked for a newspaper, a public relations agency, a real estate agency and as a bartender in a hotel.
A cradle Catholic, he attended children’s rosary meetings as a boy. He began to think about priesthood when he was in Rome for the 2011 beatification of St. John Paul II (the world’s first Polish Pope) and for World Youth Day in Madrid that same year. Also influential were his numerous pilgrimages to the Our Lady in Czestochowa Shrine, a venerated icon of the Blessed Virgin about 160 miles from his home.
“What encouraged me to become a priest was the desire to lead young people to Jesus,” Deacon Dembowski.
He attended seminary in Warsaw for the Diocese of Warszawa-Praga. After six years’ study, he graduated with distinction with a Master of Divinity. The topic of his master’s thesis was public relations in the Catholic Church in an era of new media.
During his time in seminary, he helped organize vocations retreats and coordinated the Polish pilgrims who would attend World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland in 2016 and also in Panama in 2019.
Deacon Dembowski, 28, visited Idaho during Christmas break. “I was welcomed there just like at home. I am very happy and thank God and the people that I can be part of the Diocese of Boise in Idaho.”
Deacon Dembowski’s interests include new media, soccer, movies and reading crime stories. “I prefer to spend my free time writing and, sometimes, cooking.”
“The Church in Poland is exploding with priests,” Father Dail said. “The Polish men we now have felt a call to missionary dioceses like ours so that we could profit from their abundance.”
“We were really blessed to come across Aleksander.” Father Dail said. “The trick is to get high-quality guys, like Adrian and Pawel, and others follow. Our Lord is truly blessing us from the land of Poland.”
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