Fr. Bartlomiej Jasilek, SVD
Quick with a smile and willing to share his point of view, which he often punctuates with a laugh, Fr. Bartlomiej Jasilek, SVD is on mission in America. A native of Poland, he has been assigned to the Southern Provence of the U.S., but sent to Divine Word College (DWC) for two semesters of English language training.
The DWC community got a glimpse of his nature shortly after he arrived in early 2010, when he offered to make it easier to call him by name.
“Just call me ‘Bart,’” he said with a grin. “Like Bart Simpson.”
Born in Okonek, a town in northwestern Poland not far from the Baltic Sea, Fr. Bart felt a call to religious life. Through his high school and college years, whenever he was asked what he wanted to do, his response was the same. He wanted to help other people. At the age of 22, his parish priest introduced him to a community of the SVD.
“When I spoke to SVD priests and brothers, I felt something in my heart—happiness,” he said. “I felt peace in my heart. Maybe this place is for me.”
Following his journey through discernment, he professed his first vows in 2001 and his perpetual vows in 2008. Before ordination, he submitted to the SVD Generalate in Rome three countries for missionary service, with the United States as one. That resulted in his assignment to the Southern Province, but first, he needed a stop in Epworth, Iowa and DWC.
Fr. Bart arrived in January and spent his first semester in the ESL program. In May, he headed south to get a taste of his future missionary ministry.
“During last summer, I was in my province to work in Bay St. Louis, (Mississippi),” he said. “I had the chance to meet people who work in the parish, the weather, a little culture. It was a very good time.”
He returned in August and will wrap up his ESL training at DWC in December. But he notes he has learned more than English while living on the Epworth campus.
“This is a good place for a missionary,” he said. “For me, it’s very good experience, because this place is very international. We have people from Asia, Africa, South America, Philippines. For me this is very good.”
He has found a unity with students from around the world as they walk together along a path as followers of Jesus Christ. The company of his classmates and the activities he finds all combine in a fulfilling, multicultural learning experience.
He likes to say that he has been, “reborn” at DWC.
“When I was a small child in my country, I learned a lot from my teachers, my friends, my parents. Here, for me it’s like new life. This place and the people who are around me help me with my life,” he said. “If I want to serve the people, if I want help other people in my future after this, I need also understand these people. Here I can learn. I can study about that.”