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Ceremony of planting an oak tree
in memory of Fr Karol Wajszczuk

Drelow (Horodek) - May 17, 2006

A solemn ceremony of planting the “Remembrance Oak Trees" symbolizing the parishioners' gratitude to God for the Persons of: 1/ God's Servant - Pope John Paul II, 2/ Primate of the Millenium - Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, 3/ Uniates-Martyrs from Drelow and 4/ the martyr of the Dachau Concentration Camp - Fr Karol Leonard Wajszczuk (0074), was held in Horodek n/Drelow on May 17, 2006 with the participation of the parishoners, clergy and local authorities.

The ceremony was preceded by the Holy Mass, which was celebrated by the Parish priest of the Drelow Parish, Fr Wieslaw Manczyna and was held in the chapel of Saint Onufry-the Hermit.

Symbolic planting of the oak tree seedlings was performed by Fr Wieslaw Manczyna together with the Chief Officer of the Drelow commune - Piotr Kazimierski, assisted by the headmasters of the local schools.

Fr Karol Wajszczuk was closely associated for many years with Drelow and Horodek. He was nominated in 1919 to be a local parish priest in the newly erected Roman-Catholic Parish in Drelow. For the next 20 years, he was an organizer of the social and religious life in the re-born Polish Republic. After the outbreak of WWII, he became engaged in the organization of the underground resistance movements fighting to restore freedom. For these activities, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.

Fr Wajszczuk maintained full humanitarian attitude in the brutal environment of the camp life. An incident, which occured during unloading of the shipment of coal, testifies to this attitude. Fr Wajszczuk volunteered as a replacement for another prisoner - a young priest, Fr Stefan Ceptowski. Fr Ceptowski reached the limits of physical exhaustion and another day of physical work would have been a death sentence for him. Indisputably, according to Fr Ceptowski's testimony, Fr Wajszczuk's deed led directly to saving the young priest's life, while Fr Karol himself was sent to the concentration camp at Dachau and ended up in the "invalid transport" and shortly afterwards perished (probably in a gas chamber), as a result an of injury, which he suffered during this work.

Honoring the memory of Fr Karol Wajszczuk, by planting an oak tree, was one more in a series of earlier events designed to assure the preservation of the memory of this kind and worthy man and priest. The first ceremony took place shortly after the end of WWII, when a handful of symbolic ashes (representing also many other local victims of the concentration camps), was brought from a concentration camp and buried in the local cemetery in a specially prepared tomb. In 1997, during a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the founding of the settlement in Drelow, a commemorative plaque devoted to Fr Karol was unveiled in the Parish Church. Two years later, in a nearby locality of Lozki, a monument was erected which honored soldiers of the clandestine POW military organization - Fr Wajszczuk was its secret chaplain during both world wars. In 2004, the Society of Friends of the Drelow Region designated the year 2004 as a "Year of Fr. Karol Wajszczuk" and dr Jozef Geresz delivered a presentation describing the life and deeds of Fr Wajszczuk during a specially organized scientific session.


See also:

Przygotowali: Waldemar J Wajszczuk & Paweł Stefaniuk 2006
e-mail: wwajszczuk@comcast.net