Father Nawrocki, priest who served Holy Rosary Parish and Polish communities, dies

A farewell bilingual Mass in Polish and English for Society of Christ Father Zdzisław Nawrocki will be held Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m., at Holy Rosary in Fells Point.

Father Nawrocki, who had been a temporary administrator and then associate pastor of Holy Rosary between 2009 and 2011, died Sept. 11 – six days short of his 69th birthday. He had been in residence at the parish since coming to Baltimore in 2009.

According to a tribute prepared by Holy Rosary, Father Nawrocki was born in Dzierzbino, Poland. In his youth, he had been recognized for his talents as an actor, but chose to answer a call to religious life.

He joined the Society of Christ in 1966, and was ordained in June 1973 by Archbishop Antoni Baraniak in Poznan, Poland.

Father Nawrocki served as a pastor in England until 1979, when he began his service in the United States. Before coming to Baltimore, he had ministered in Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.

According to the Holy Rosary tribute, Father Nawrocki reorganized the parish and improved its finances.

In a 2010 interview with the Catholic Review, Father Nawrocki spoke about how Polish customs are maintained at Holy Rosary.

“I was supposed to be an opera singer, so I have this pride in my veins,” Father Nawrocki said. “So every Mass should be different with some type of accent to make it attractive to people and to show them that our Lord is very rich in substance and appearance.”

The priest said younger Polish-speaking parishioners who have moved to the U.S. from Poland for their careers “have such a need from the heart” to participate in customs and traditions.

In his later years, in addition to assisting locally, Father Nawrocki travelled on evangelization assignments across the United States for the Mission Apostolate of the Society of Christ.

An 11 a.m. funeral Mass will be offered Sept. 21 at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in Sterling Heights, Mich.