06 June 2019, The Tablet

‘Our hope lies in Jesus Christ’

by Blanche Girouard , Andrzej Niski

The priestly life

‘Our hope lies in Jesus Christ’

THE PRIEST: Fr Andrzej Niski
St Lawrence’s, Dingwall, and St Peter and St Boniface, Fortrose

In the fifth in our series lifting the lid on the experience of being a priest today, a young Pole who is priest-in-charge of a parish in the Scottish Highlands reflects on the joy of serving in a Church that is being stripped of its wealth and prestige

My history is simple. I was 22 and I’d got myself into trouble, back in Poland. I was a good son. A devoted member of the local Catholic community. An exemplary student, my parents thought, at Warsaw University. But I’d been leading a double life. I was caught up with drink and drugs, and I’d dropped out of my course. Then I got depressed. Terribly depressed. To the point that I ended up in hospital for two weeks.

A friend said: “I think it would be good for you to leave Warsaw for the time being.” So we left for Sweden. Then Italy. Travelling and earning money for travel. It was not long after Pope John Paul’s death. We paid a visit to his tomb and there – out of nowhere – came a profound conviction that I would not be going back.

We ended up in Scotland. Megabus was selling tickets for £1 to Inverness so we came to Inverness. After a couple of weeks, it felt like it was time to move on, but the sense of not knowing what to do with my life was haunting me. So where did I go? To the church. Just to sit. And there was Fr James. He looked at me. Invited me to tea. And I told him my story, more or less. Told him I’d tried the seminary in Poland and dropped out. And he instantly said: “Why don’t you become a priest here?”

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