3 listopad /FP | Family Family News Service
Fr. Grzegorz Pawłowski was a Polish Jew who miraculously survived the Holocaust. His parents died during the war, and as a child he was saved from extermination by a Polish family. He spoke many times about attachment and gratitude to Poland and about the good relations between Poles and Jews. He died at the age of 90, spending 63 of those years in the priesthood.
The funeral ceremony took place today at the Lublin Cathedral. The clergyman was buried at the Jewish cemetery in Izbica. Earlier, on the 25th October a memorial mass was held in Jaffa, Israel.
„His returns to Poland were pilgrimages to his mother’s grave, when he remembered her, he burst into tears, in a way visiting the Izbica cemetery was a pilgrimage to his own, still empty grave” – emphasized Bishop Mieczysław Cisło during the homily in Lublin.
The Servant and Soldier of the Messiah is gone
The funeral ceremonies were attended by representatives of state, local and religious authorities, incl. The Minister of National Education prof. Przemysław Czarnek, Voivode of Lublin, Lech Sprawka, The Mayor of Lublin Dr. Krzysztof Żuk, Fr. Dr. Piotr Żelazko, vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Catholics of the Hebrew language.
The Holy Mass was celebrated in the Lublin Cathedral by the Rt Rv. Stanisław Budzik, Archbishop of Lublin. The homily was delivered by Bishop Mieczysław Cisło. „The builder of peace is gone, a man of extraordinary wisdom and kindness” – emphasized the bishop emeritus. The Bishop recounted the remarkable, but also dramatic story of the late honorary prelate Fr. Gregory Pawłowski, who during his lifetime was a devoted soldier of Christ. He summarized his whole life with the phrase: “I abandoned my loved ones in the face of their extermination, to save my life, I gave them to the service of God and people. I have returned to the place of their martyrdom. ”
Father Grzegorz loved two homelands: Poland and Israel, and for both he was ready to give his life. Bishop Mieczysław Cisło spoke of Fr. Pawłowski as a priest devoted to other people who was faithful to the end of the Gospel message of love for God and to his neighbour. He often returned to Poland, especially in the last years of his life. Here he recharged internal batteries and met with people. „He was protected from loneliness by writing, which took him to his first homeland,’ to those fields painted with various grains, gilded with wheat, silvered with rye’, to the lush greenery in the middle of summer, which he noticed and stopped to marvel at them. His returns to Poland were pilgrimages to his mother’s grave, when he remembered her, he burst into tears, and, in a way, visiting the Izbica cemetery was a pilgrimage to his own, still empty tomb, „Bishop Cisło noted in his homily.
The Bishop noted that Fr. Pawłowski never spoke badly about Poles, he often repeated that he owed his life to them. „Savings, although small, were turned into suitcases of devotional items from the Holy Land, which he gave to people he met in Poland,” emphasized the bishop.
Bishop Cisło recalled that it was on the 3rd November 1943, that the German authorities carried out the murder of 18,000 people in the Lublin district. Jews who were given the code name „Aktion Erntefest” (Operation „Harvest Festival”). From the words of Fr. Pawłowski, on the other hand, was always filled with hope and faith that a person did not have to be Cain for another and could reject indifference and contempt. The land of Izbica, which he so loved, became his final destination. Father Grzegorz’s body was laid to rest at the Jewish cemetery in Izbica.
Polish Jew saved from extermination
Let us remember Fr. Grzegorz Pawłowski who twas born onhe 23rd August 1931 in a family of Orthodox Jews from Zamość as Jakub Hersz Griner. When he was only 8 years old, the war broke out. His relatives died and he managed to escape. He survived the Holocaust thanks to the Poles who gave him refuge and, saved him, giving him a new name. They brought him up in an atmosphere of Christian faith, which he made it his own.
Faithful to God, the Church and his neighbour
After graduating from high school, he entered the Lublin Theological Seminary. In 1958 he was ordained a priest. The following years were filled with zealous pastoral work in the parishes of the Archdiocese of Lublin. In the years 1968-1970 he completed specialist biblical studies at the Catholic University of Lublin. After finding his brother, saved from the extermination, in 1970 he left for Israel, where he took up the service as a Catholic priest of the communities of the Hebrew language and the Polish community, which at one time consisted of several thousand Poles. In 2018, he was awarded the title of honorary citizen of the city of Lublin.
He wrote many books on autobiographical and religious topics. These, among others are: „Servant of the Messiah” – a river interview, telling about tragic fate, the colours of priestly life and the beauty of friendship, „Survivor from the Holocaust in the service of the Messiah” about looking at Christianity through the eyes of a Jew or „Priestly testament of the servant Messiah „talking about the priesthood of the New Covenant in the context of the priesthood of the temple.
Honoured by the President of the Republic of Poland
Posthumously, Fr. Pawłowski was honoured by the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.