Father Jan Klimczyk, a retired priest currently in residence at Holy Family Parish, South Bend, observed his 40th jubilee May 17. Father Klimczyk has had the privilege of serving in his ministerial role on both sides of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend since he arrived in the diocese in the late 1990s.
His first assignment was to St. Adalbert Parish in South Bend; from there he became associate pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Fort Wayne, from 2000 to 2002. His next assignment, a true highlight of his decades of wholehearted service and humble love, moved him back to the South Bend side of the diocese and to St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, New Carlisle, where Father Klimczyk said he gladly took on an ambitious and fruitful undertaking: the refurbishing of the parish, where he was primary rector from 2002 to 2007.
He spearheaded the re-shingling, retiling and general cleanup of the church building as well as the school building. It was a massive undertaking, but Father Klimczyk was determined to do it, he said, and did so with a responsible appreciation of Church resources, both fiscal and volunteer. His mindfulness and care for the church and its congregation stood out in the memories of the parishioners and staff who worked with him.
His restorative efforts did not stop at tiling floors and cleaning walls, but also included the smallest and most intimate of details. Accompanying the altar of St. Stanislaus Kostka sits a hand-carved wooden depiction of the Last Supper, which Father Klimczyk commissioned from a skilled woodworker in his native Poland. The parish has held it in special reverence ever since, thankful for his commitment to making the love of Christ come alive in the fundamentals of the parish’s building and for diligently bringing the medium-sized structure with him from a trip to Poland.
Father Klimczyk is also credited with expanding the number of lay ministers in the parish and hiring new staff before his move to St. Hedwig and St. Patrick parishes in 2007.
Father Klimczyk called South Bend his home for the next four years until his move to Blessed Sacrament in Albion in 2011. He was then appointed associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne in 2012. Later, he filled the need for a new pastor at St. Patrick Parish, Walkerton, in early 2014, and served as chaplain at Saint Anne Communities at Victory Noll, Huntington, in 2016. His retirement from active ministry in 2017 took him to Holy Family Parish, South Bend.
Even in retirement, his ministry remains active. Father Klimczyk celebrates daily Masses at Holy Family Parish, often with the school students at both Holy Family and St. John the Baptist schools, and is around at the drop of a hat should one of his fellow priests need his assistance.
The family of the parishes to which he has been appointed are deeply important to him, as is his own family — which lends itself to frequent visits to see family members in the Chicago area and to travel to Poland.
He keeps Christ at the forefront of his ministry, embodying the Gospel of Matthew’s emphasis on secret action: “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Known for his generosity in time and his prudent care for Church resources, Father Klimczyk is praised by former parishioners and rectors who worked with him for his deep love of the Church, seen through his time spent talking with parishioners, his talent for moving projects forward and for his intercessory prayer — often seen in the Holy Family parking lot as he takes his morning walk, praying for the students and faculty on the grounds. Father Klimczyk has always appreciated a ministry in the background, one that is primarily showing over telling, doing over seeing.
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