On the Feast of Our Lady the Queen of Poland, May 3, 2016, Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski CM, died at 84 years of age in the university hospital in Gdansk, Poland.
He was Vincentian for 67 years, priest for 60 and bishop for 33. He served as archbishop of Gdansk (1985 – 2008) and is recognized as one of the most significant leaders during the a very difficult period of transition in Poland from a Communist regime to democracy.
Earlier he had been Visitor of the Province of Poland of the Congregation of the Mission (1973 – 1982). He guided the Polish Province through the dark period of Martial Law in Poland. During his tenure as Visitor of the Province of Poland of the Congregation of the Mission (1973 – 1982) the Vice Provinces of Poland in Brazil and United States became independent which subsequently became the current Provinces of Curitiba and New England. Polish Vincentians went to foreign missions in Madagascar and Democratic Republic of Congo (former Zaire). He also guided Polish Province through dark period of Martial Law in Poland.
The Archbishop was taken to the hospital in the evening of April 20 after suffering stroke. The next day he suffered another extensive brain hemorrhage and his condition worsened. He did not return to consciousness and doctors gave little hope. The Archbishop was undergoing chemotherapy and it is suspected that the chemotherapy could have caused the stroke.
Msgr. Goclowski was deeply engaged in the works of Polish Episcopate as co-chairman of Episcopate – Government Committee, chairman of Laborers’ Apostolate Committee, Nationwide Moderator of Seamens Apostolate. In 1988 and 1989 he participated in so called ‘Magdalenka Talks,’ a series of debates and discussions between Church, communist government and underground opposition leaders as representative of the Episcopate. He was a zealous advocate of workers’ right and an ardent advocate of the ‘Solidarity’ trade union movement especially during the Martial Law. The Archbishop was recognized as one of the strongest authorities in Polish Episcopate and the Church. Known for his superb erudition he liked historical and social science books, regularly read multiple newspapers and opinion making magazines. He liked listening to classical music as well.
Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski, C.M., J.C.D. was born on September 16, 1931 in Piski ( in Ostroleka county, about 50 miles from Warsaw) where Goclowski family settled after immigration from United States. He finished the Vincentian Minor Seminary ( the high school) in Krakow, and then he entered Congregation of Mission and continued in Theological Seminary — Vincentian Fathers Institute of Theology (Instytut Teologiczny Ksiezy Misjonarzy) also in Krakow He was ordained a priest on June 24, 1956, in the seminary church in Krakow by bishop Stanislaw Rospond.
After ordination he was sent for graduate studies in Canon Law in Rome and at Catholic University of Lublin (KUL). Subsequently, he was appointed lecturer in the Vincentian Theological Institute (ITKM) in Krakow and diocesan seminary in Gdansk-Oliwa. The seminary was administered by Vincentians from 1957 to 1998. From 1971 to 1973 and as well as 1982 – 1983 he served as Rector in the bishop’s seminary in Gdansk-Oliwa. From 1973 to 1982 Fr. Goclowski was a Visitor of the Province of Poland.
While serving as Rector of the Gdansk seminary for the second time he was appointed auxiliary bishop for diocese of Gdansk and a titular bishop of Benevento (Carthage, Northern Africa) on March 22, 1983. Consecrated bishop April 17, 1983 by Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the Primate of Poland, in the Our Lady Basilica in Gdansk. He chose as his motto “credite evangelio” — “believe the Gospel.”
A year later, on December 31, 1984, he was appointed the fifth bishop of Gdansk upon the death of his predecessor, Bishop Kaczmarek. On March 22, 1992 due to introduction of new administrative organization of the Church in Poland he was elevated to the dignity of archbishop and first metropolitan of Gdansk. In September 2006, after reaching Canonical retirement age he forwarded the Holy See formal resignation from his office of bishop of Gdansk. Pope Benedict XVI did not accept the resignation and asked the archbishop to remain in his post until April 17, 2008, that is to the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordinations. Read the biography in the Vincentian Encyclopedia