By Michael Wojcik9/13/2007
The Beacon (http://www.patersondiocese.org/)
EAST HANOVER, N.J. (The Beacon) - Years ago, Adam Muda made deliveries for his uncle’s bakery in northwestern Poland. The truck didn’t have a radio, so in the silence he decided to tune his mind and spirit into a frequency far stronger than AM or FM - the power of God.
Between deliveries, Muda, today a 27-year-old seminarian of the Paterson Diocese, would sit in the truck, praying. He also would read religious books he got from his mother, Genowefa, leader of their parish’s rosary society.
“I started thinking about God’s call to the priesthood as a boy and then again in high school. At 20 years old, I heard the call again, so I started to pray the rosary every day,” noted Muda, who served St. Rose of Lima Parish here this summer.
But at this time, Muda’s life seemed to be following a different wavelength. He had a serious girlfriend and was planning to train as a fire captain.
“Around Easter 2001, my vocation became stronger. I started going to confession twice a month. I was thinking, ‘vocation - it¹s not an impossible thought,’” said Muda, who was raised on a farm in the village of Goraj. “After more prayer, I decided, ‘This is it. I want to be a priest.’ My parents were surprised. They never thought I would go to seminary,” he said.
Maybe his parents - Genowefa, a bookkeeper, and Andre, a public works director - shouldn¹t have been surprised. After all, the seminarian grew up around priests and religious. Many clergy served his parish of St. Bartholomew’s. His uncle, Jan, was a priest who lived with the family awhile.
“My uncle’s priest friends would come around,” said the personable Muda, a third-year theology student at St. Mary¹s Seminary, Baltimore.
Not only that, Muda learned about his faith at the knee of his grandfather, who would read the Bible to him as a youngster. His family, which includes two younger sisters and a younger brother, prayed together every night. He also was taught religious education in Polish public schools.
Muda decided to build on that strong Catholic background by pursuing his priestly studies at Lublin Catholic University. He completed two years of philosophy and a year of theology there. He also served various parishes, visited hospitals and aided the chaplain at a nursing home.
“The nursing home residents loved when the seminarians visited. We would talk to them and make parties for them. We would dance with them while they were in their wheelchairs,” Muda said.
Muda’s vocation got another boost in 2003, when he went to Rome to visit his uncle, Jan, and briefly met Poland’s favorite son, Pope John Paul II.
“I prepared something to say, but I was rushed along,” Muda said. “I knelt before him. He didn’t say anything. I didn’t say anything. He smiled and blessed me. It was beautiful.”
By his second year at Lublin, Muda started looking to the United States, where he would arrive in 2004. He settled in Chicago, home to a large Polish population. Not knowing any English when he arrived, he joined a friend at Bishop Abramowicz Seminary there, where he studied for a year while taking an English-as-a-Second Language course.
But after a while in the Windy City, Muda realized that the Chicago Archdiocese was blessed with an abundance of priests. He desired to go somewhere that was in greater need of priests. He transferred to the Polish seminary of Sts. Cyril & Methodius in Orchard Lake, Mich., where he met with members of the diocesan Vocations Office.
He met Father Hernan Arias, former vocations director and pastor of St. Margaret Parish in Morristown, N.J., who persuaded the seminarian to come out to the diocese at Thanksgiving in 2005. He visited Holy Rosary Parish, a Polish faith community in Passaic, and a Sparta parish, he said.
“I was happy here,” said Muda, whom Bishop Arthur Serratelli accepted as a seminarian of the Paterson diocese last year.
A real ‘go-getter’
Also last year, Muda served his first summer assignment in the diocese at Our Lady of the Magnificat Parish in Kinnelon, where he honed his English skills through lectoring and taking lessons with a tutor. He also visited the sick with Msgr. Joseph Goode, then the parochial vicar at the parish.
At OLM, Muda noticed that “priests in the United States are open to the people. They are welcoming,” he said.
The welcoming Msgr. John Carroll, OLM’s pastor, expressed his admiration for Muda’s go-getter attitude – “Adam would see something that needed to get done, and he would do it.” Muda not only helped couples with marriage issues and taught summer school religious education, but he also helped the custodians and painted the rectory deck railing, the pastor said.
This summer, Muda went to St. Rose of Lima, where he visited hospitals, lectored and pursued more instruction in English. Father Owen Moran, St. Rose’s pastor, helped him with English by preparing for the readings with him.
“Adam will make a wonderful priest because he loves the Mass, interacts well with people and is able to draws gifts out of people,” Father Moran said. He brings out the joy of being a follower of Christ so much so that he already has inspired several of the parish’s young men to be open to the priesthood, the pastor said.
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