Rev. Stefan Niemczyk, our present pastor, was born in Poland on December 10, 1953. He spent his early childhood and elementary school days in Giedlarowa, Poland. Five years of study in automotive technology followed at the Automotive Institute in Rzeszow.
After his technical training, the young Stefan Niemczyk worked for three months as a government clerk. Then he was drafted into the Polish Marines. Corporal Niemczyk served in the artillery division for two years.
Upon completion of his military service, Stefan worked as an automobile service station manager in Przemysl. Discerning a vocation to the priesthood, he then entered the seminary, Wyzsze Seminarium Duchowne in Przemysl where he studied philosophy and theology for four years.
In 1983, seminarian Niemczyk came to the United States to work in behalf of Polonia and complete his priestly studies at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan. During his two and a half years at Orchard Lake, he worked in the apostolates of education (religion teacher at Our Lady of Czestochowa School, Sterling Heights,
Michigan) and in pastoral care (Pontiac Medical Center in Pontiac, Michigan). He received his Master of Divinity degree from Sts. Cyril & Methodius Seminary.
He was admitted to Candidacy for the Ordination (entrance into the clerical state) by Bishop Patrick Cooney, an auxiliary Bishop of Detroit on November 22, 1985. Next followed his ordination to the transitional diaconate for the Diocese of Springfield, Mass. by the late Bishop Leo E. O'Neil on December 4, 1985 in the Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Orchard Lake. He served his deacon internship at St. Patrick Church, Chicopee. Deacon Niemczyk was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Joseph F. Maguire on January 31, 1987 at the same church.
The new Father Niemczyk's first assignment was as assistant pastor (curate) at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Adams, Mass. under the leadership of Rev. John Chwalek. Six years later he was assigned as assistant pastor in Immaculate Conception Parish, Indian Orchard with pastor Rev. Adrian Benoit. In these two assignments, Father Stefan was very involved with the parochial schools at both parishes, and was responsible for the organization of the altar servers, along with his regular priestly duties.
In January, 1998, Fr. Stefan was named administrator of Sts. Peter & Paul Parish following the death of Rev. Robert Ceckowski. He was then named the sixth pastor of our parish. Fr. Stefan's enthusiasm and vibrancy often leave people younger than him catching their breath! He has proven to be deeply concerned with the liturgical and spiritual life of our parish, and continues to offer Mass every day of the week, including his "day off," (which often turns out to be just the opposite!). He's a supporter of the religious education and formation of our youth, and a true pastor to all persons and age groups. Father Stefan is unafraid to point out to parishioners to be careful not to follow the various secular, and often anti-religious winds blowing through contemporary society.
There have been many physical upgrades to our parish during Father Stefan's pastorate, including rewiring and replacement of lights with more efficient bulbs. One of Father Stefan's first acts was the replacement of carpeting in the church and sacristy for the first time in thirty years. With his blessing and approval, the parish Men's Guild erected a gazebo (chiefly used for the annual Parish Picnic, but also for wedding photos) on the lawn between the school and church. In early 2004, the parish hall was renovated with new paint, wallpaper, carpeting, and sanding of the floor in the main hall. The location of the Parish Picnic was returned to our beautiful parish grounds after being hosted at both Pulaski Park (Three Rivers) and St. Joseph's Park (Thorndike) over a period of some thirty-plus years.
Fr. Stefan's love of nature and gardening talents became apparent almost immediately upon his arrival. Numerous trees now grace the parish property, and his annual flower and vegetable gardens always add to the beauty of our grounds.
He manages to make one or two visits to his sisters and brothers, and other relatives in Poland, as well as maintaining contacts with family members here in the United States. We are indeed blessed to continue to have a resident priest in our parish, and one of the fortitude, depth, and fidelity of Fr. Stefan.