Obituary: Monsignor Bronisław Gostomski

Fr Bronek

Fr Bronek

Brosnisław Gostomski was born on 9 November 1948 in Sierpc, Płock Diocese, Poland. He was brought up in a family with strong Catholic values and traditions. After finishing secondary school, in September 1966 he began his studies and preparation for priesthood at the Płock Seminary where he completed his studies and was ordained priest on 18 June 1972 by Bishop Bogdan Sikorski. After a short time working as an assistant priest in a local parish, the Bishop asked Fr Bronisław to undertake a Masters Degree in history, which he completed at the Lublin Catholic University (KUL) in 1979. Fr Bronisław loved history; little did he know then how intertwined the pages of history would become in his life.

In December 1979 he began his service as a Priest for the Polish Community in England, first in the Parish of Our Lady, Mother of the Church in Ealing, then in the Polish Parishes in Peterborough and Bradford. This chapter of his life unfolded against the backdrop of a difficult period in Polish history: the joy at the election of a Polish Pope, John Paul II, was tempered by the difficult and dangerous political situation in Poland which ended only by the declaration of martial law in 1981. The Polish Emigré community lived on the news from Poland and Father Bronisław, as their priest, joined them in their participation in the living history of their homeland. He was known everywhere as a fervent patriot who was always joyful and full of optimism. He cared not only for the spiritual wellbeing of his parishioners, but also nurtured strong ecumenical links and worked with local communities.

In March 2003 he was honoured by John Paul II with the title of Monsignor and in September that year he was nominated as Parish Priest of St. Andrew Bobola’s church in London. The return to London began a new chapter in Father’s life in which history, the subject he loved so much, again became an inseparable part of his life. As the chaplain of the Polish Ex-Servicemen’s Association (SPK), he cared spiritually for those who had been left in England when the dramatic events of the Second World War and the Cold War took their course. Moreover, he cared also for those who had come to England in more recent years in pursuit of a new life and opportunities. As the Parish Priest he could bring everyone together as one family, regardless of age of personal history. Simply, he was a father for his parish...

The church of Saint Andrew Bobola, known as the Polish Garrison Church, is also the Shrine of Our Lady of Kozielsk. The most valuable relic found here is the carving of Our Lady of Kozielsk which was made in secret in the Soviet Labour Camp in Kozielsk in the Katyn forests. The image became the “fighting icon” of the Second Polish Corps during the Second World War as they fought in the Middle East, Africa and Italy, especially at the battle of Monte Casino. The significance of this image of Our Lady was underlined in 1997 when Pope John Paul II crowned Her during his visit to Krakow, Poland. Father Bronek became a devout servant of Our Lady of Kozielsk and did everything so that young Poles would honour Her as fervently as those who had earlier dedicated themselves into Her care as they went into battle. Proudly, he wore her image pinned to his jacket, even when he
set out on his final journey: a journey to where everything began...

Tragically, Father Bronisław died on 10 April 2010 in the Presidential place disaster in Smolensk, as a member of the official delegation travelling to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyń Massacre.

A condolence page has been opened on the parish website. To read the entries (English speakers can use Google Translate) see:

Source: Church of Saint Andrew Bobola

Tags: Monsignor BronisC582aw Gostomski

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