Father Zygmunt Kurzawinksi, a priest serving AU’s Catholic community, left AU to take another post in Maryland. Kurzawinski announced his reassignment, effective immediately, at Mass on Jan. 28.
“Father Zygmunt’s sudden departure is shocking to all of us in the Catholic community, but we most certainly understand the importance of his vocation,” Danielle Imhoff, president of AU’s Catholic Students Association, said.
Kurzawinksi announced he had been reassigned to a Hispanic parish in southern Maryland that required fluent Spanish speakers.
“Fr. Zygmunt is fluent in Spanish, and there is a great need for Spanish-speaking priests in the U.S. with the influx of Hispanic Catholics at a rate greater than that of vocations to the priesthood,” Kimberly Rogers, associate Catholic chaplain, said in an article addressed to the Catholic community.
Kurzawinksi is one of several priests in recent years that led the Catholic community at AU but were reassigned shortly thereafter to fulfill other duties.
“In my own time here at AU, I’ve seen three separate priests already, each with their own beautiful contribution to our Catholic community,” Imhoff said in an e-mail.
Karin Thornton, assistant Catholic chaplain, said in an e-mail that a priest trained to work with students will replace Kurzawinski at AU.
“For the rest of the semester we will have a priest from the Salesian order,” Thornton said in an e-mail. “They are trained to work with young adults.”
Students generally seemed sad about Kurzawinski’s departure.
“Fr. Zygmunt was very loved on this campus and I believe that he made a big difference in his time here,” Imhoff said in an e-mail.
Some students said Kurzawinski brought youth and passion into his sermons.
“Father brought a young, very energetic attitude to the Catholic community,” Mark Winek, assistant to the Catholic chaplain, said. “He knew how to joke around with you, something reflected in his homilies, but he was always so approachable if you had a personal problem.”
Lindsay Delp, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said Kurzawinksi was always available to help students.
“When my aunt passed away, he was the first adult I went to talk to about it,” she said.
Keegan Gibson, treasurer of the Catholic Students Association, said Kurzawinksi was able to relate to students and their needs.
“Sometimes preachers can be too academic and can come across stuffy and boring, while others focus too much on the basics of Christianity and leave educated people feeling underwhelmed,” he said. “Father Zygmunt knew that he was speaking to college students, and gave a perfectly tailored message every Sunday,”
During his time at AU, Kurzawinksi created many new programs to engage the Catholic community, including starting a men’s group and revitalizing Catholic community dinners, according to Winek.
Kurzawinksi also helped organize trips and pilgrimages for Catholic students at AU.
“He was the one who started the Rome trip for spring break,” Veronica Gessner, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, said. “He put a lot of his time and energy into making it happen.”