If you love stories of Catholic martyrs and other saints, images of beautiful Catholic cathedrals, or people meeting their long-lost relatives for the first time, then EWTN’s new mini-series, “Polish Catholic” with Fr. Mitch Pacwa is for you! (Airs the week of Feb. 22 at 5 p.m. ET on EWTN.)
Fr. Mitch invites viewers to accompany him on a personal journey of faith as he follows in the footsteps of famous and not-so-famous Catholic martyrs such as St. Andrew Boboula (“his body is incorrupt, you can see the kinds of tortures he went through”); St. Maximillian Kolbe (“whose body was burned to ashes at Auschwitz”); St. Stanislaus of Krakow (“the bishop martyred in a church by the King of Poland because he was fighting for the rights of the poor and for the Church”); St. Faustina (“we got inside her room in the convent”), and St. John Paul II (“we saw the museum that is his house”).
“We went to all the places of each of these saints except for St. Andrew Boboula because he was martyred in Russia,” said Fr. Mitch. “But we filmed the episode in front of his body in the glass coffin in Warsaw.”
In addition to its martyrs, Poland is known for gorgeous Catholic cathedrals and the series doesn’t disappoint. You will go inside the incomparable Czestochowa Cathedral, aka the Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family, where Father was able to celebrate Mass; and the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow, where St. Faustina lived.
However, one of the more fascinating stories revolves around St. Mary’s Church, where a trumpeter plays a hymn every hour, which ends on a broken note. “They do that because a Tatar shot the trumpeter through the throat while playing a hymn [to warn the people of an impending Mongol invasion] so they still play it like he did in his day,” says Fr. Mitch. “It’s a hymn to Our Lady.” Because of that trumpeter, the city of Krakow was saved!
Father Mitch has been to Poland numerous times, and he knew the mother’s side of his dad’s family. But he had never met the father’s side of his dad’s family. In this series, you will see Father Mitch meet these relatives for the first time!
“I saw the house where my dad was born. There were about five houses with Pacwas in them! That’s not a common name. The only Pacwas were my relatives.”
Father Mitch shocks his relatives (and us) by revealing that his grandfather on his dad’s side of the family emigrated to the United States to escape the police because he was a murderer!
“My mother was pregnant with me when he died of alcoholism so I never knew him,” Father Mitch said. “My relatives had no idea there were these problems. But they told me about my grandfather’s brothers, who had stayed in Poland. Some were killed by Germans during the war. Other members of the family survived, and there was one priest in the family who died just last year. I would have loved to have met him!”
Father Mitch also visits the village of his grandmother, about whom he knew nothing.
Father discovered much of this history by researching his family on ancestry.com. He even found photos of the ships on which his family came to America: His grandfather’s photo was on the register of the SS Furnessia, and his grandmother’s was on the SS Rotterdam.
Father Mitch hopes EWTN’s viewers will check out his new series: “We were able to see how much things have changed in Poland since [the fall of] Communism. This is well worth seeing!”