Father Beyzym gave me different signs. I make a business of photography. It happened once that I was to take photographs of a certain small church in a certain place. The weather was not very good that day. Going there I asked Father Beyzym for sunny weather. I still remember that it was cloudy in the district of Lesser Poland but I was taking my pictures in the sunshine. The pictures were of great success. I am absolutely sure that it was Father Beyzym’s business. He took care of me in his own way.
Father Beyzym helps other people as well. My wife’s friend visited us one day. While chatting, she mentioned that her friend was in a critical condition at hospital after being beaten by bullies. He had the brain stem contusion. My wife’s friend told that he would probably never recover. I advised her to order a mass at St. Barbara’s church for the mercy of that young man recovery with Father Beyzym’s intercession. So she did. This young man recovered from the disease before long. And it was with Father Beyzym’s intercession!
We can mark out two main messages in your story - physical recovery and spiritual, i.e. regaining your faith.
After the car crash I was not able to comprehend the condition I was in, not only because I was not a doctor, but simply because I was unconscious. Everything I know about that time comes from the stories of my relatives and medical documents. It was obvious that the chances for my recovery were very poor. It was said that even if I recovered from coma and it would be possible to regain somehow the contact with me that alone would be just great. Of course, I would be wheel-chair driven at best. But I made full recovery. I established my health. I was given no chances, though. The prognosis was that even if I survived, I would be disabled. But it happened the other way. The proof of my absolute and complete recovery are my children who were born a couple of years after the car accident.
The council of physicians confirmed that even taking into account the progress of medical science, this convalescence case could not be rationally explained from the medical point of view.
Was this, let us put it like this, “mysterious” recovery a kind of a push to start reflecting on your life?
I had plenty of time for that when I was at hospital. It is hard to tell whether I started thinking about my life at that very time. It just happened. I felt amazing peace in this reflection. At a certain moment I simply understood that Our Lord exists, that He takes care of everything, sees everything, knows everything. It was His deed that I survived the accident. Every single thing connected with faith and religion, out of a sudden, received a new meaning. Unexpectedly and surprisingly Father Beyzym’s personality appeared in my perception. But it probably should not have been so. I was brought up as a Christian, but I became faithful only after the car crash. For me it is a kind of a mystery, mystical experience I would say.
Once, when I was in Italy, I think it was in Verona, I went into a church and started to thank Father Beyzym on impulse. Now I do not even remember what for. But I do remember the inner sensation that warmed my heart when I silently, in my thoughts, talked to Father Beyzym. It is impossible to describe such feelings, they are awesome. Some people may laugh at me, though.
When I met my wife, my life changed completely. I met her the year after the car crash in January. I might not meet her at all but for the accident. I felt then quite well to start taking photos again and wanted to photograph cabaret “Loch Camelot” in Cracow. My parents were afraid to let me go alone there lest something should happen to me. I continued having some walking problems still. They asked my brother to accompany me. He, however, decided that it would be better if there were three of us and invited his Italian language course friend. This language course friend happened to be my future wife. We decided to meet for the photo shoot at first and then just from one date to another and finally I proposed to her.
I hold that if there were not for the accident my life could go in a different way. Who knows whether in a right direction. Now I have everything one may wish for - a great family: a fabulous wife and two bellowed children. My adventure has a happy ending. It was a blessing in disguise of God’s will. I hope for other people as well, especially, my nearest and the dearest.
I cannot say, of course, that I do not have problems. I do and health problems as well. It hurts me here and there, sometimes my knee hurts and sometimes I have problems with walking. Saying that, I thank God as all the good comes from Him. I also think that everything that happened to me was “planned”. It was maybe for the sake of my conversion and change of my previous lifestyle.
You think that you converted because of the accident, don’t you?
I do not think I would convert if it was not for the accident, or if I were unscathed. The history of my conversion is very difficult. I am happy that I changed the road I was walking along. I am absolutely aware of the fact that I am not an “exemplary” Catholic. I have faults and I make mistakes. I also have reasons to reproach or blame myself. I try to keep God’s Commandments and ask for advice of our friend - Father Dominican.
You told that you believe in God who is God of Mercy. How is it projected on your life?
Sometimes people who experienced or survived an accident have the feeling of hatred towards the person responsible for the accident. I do not have any grudge, anger or hatred against the truck driver. I have never blamed him for the accident. Some time later I accomplished the act of forgiveness. I freed myself from a burden. It could have been the beginning of my conversion. I did not think about anything in particular. Simply forgave him. I was free from the burden of evil, abhorrence, hatred that could fill my heart. I must say that my heart was overfilled with warm feelings. I met the person responsible for the accident in the court as the proceedings were initiated against him. I did not blame him. I treated him like somebody I had unpleasant memories about. And I think this was the first sign of my conversion…
At some point I started to attend the Jesuit church in Kopernik Street. I kneeled down at Father Beyzym’s sarcophagus and talked to him. I mean, I felt as if I was talking to him. It was a kind of a monologue, though. I asked for his intercession or tried to arrange something with him… And I always had the feeling that Father Beyzym answered me somehow, as I had solutions for different problems, difficult issues and situations.
- Did you hear anything about Father Beyzym before the accident?
No, it came to me only after the accident. I took interest in Father Beyzym after Father Czeslaw Drazek’s SJ visit. He worked on the case of the Servant of God Father Jan Beyzym’s beatification in Rome. Talking to me Father Drazek asked me about a lot of things and made notes. When St. John Paul II beatified Father Beyzym on Blonia in Cracow, my wife and I had the honor of sitting by the altar. We participated in the procession with gifts as well. And I also had the opportunity to approach the Pope.
I had an incredible experience. I still have the feeling of mystery of some kind. I imagined the faith in a different way before my conversion. It seemed to me that a faithful person was somebody who lived in accordance with all the principles of faith, observed all God’s Commandments precisely, etc. I sometimes have problems either with this or that. I cannot be called a perfect Christian.
But now, at least I think so, I understand that there is Somebody and He decides about everything. And you can address Him every single moment. You can ask Him for something, thank Him for His grace, ask Him to forgive you your misdoings and get His forgiveness. It is also great to have somebody who helps you do this, who intercedes.
Speaking about your case, Father Beyzym was your Intercessor with God, wasn’t he?
Of course, the most important wonder interceded by Father Beyzym for me is my return to faith. Starting to believe I started to lead a new life. I had a different hierarchy of values and different priorities before the accident. My hierarchy of values was based on the principle whether I felt comfortable, agreeable and pleasant. In this perspective I wanted to organize my life. I perceive the accident as a warning.
Luckily, Father Beyzym took care of me. He devoted his life to God and our fellowmen after all. He dedicated all his life to people. He was a good teacher and an educator in Ternopil and Chyriv. He could have lived there as a king, but he went to Madagascar to help the lepers. Everybody was surprised. People did not want to lend a willing hand to them. Everybody was afraid of this illness, communicable and incurable at Father Beyzym’s time. However, Father Beyzym went there of his own free will. And this is amazing.
You feel that Father Beyzym takes care of you, don’t you?
I think yes… When I pray at Father Beyzym’s sarcophagus, I feel peace and serenity. I like to light a candle and stay with Father Beyzym. I do not feel that I was chosen by him in some kind of a special way. I would say he met me by chance. It was the right person at the right time. I take it as decrees of Heaven. When I pray I plead to Father Beyzym on behalf of my family, friends. I always plead on behalf of myself to know the road I am heading along and to understand where I am heading to.
And in conclusion, I want to thank my mother who took care of me after the accident and during the rehabilitation process. Being a doctor, my mother could stay with me day and night during the time I was in hospital in Piotrkow. I am grateful to all my family for their attention, concern and their delicate presence, companionship, benevolent care during my illness. I want to thank the whole team of Piotrkow Hospital ICU and Ms. Teleman, the Head of the Department. I pray to Father Beyzym to intercede for all the mentioned and dear to me people.
Thank you for the interview. I wish you God’s graces and blessings and to hold true to the chosen ways.
Fr Czeslaw H. Tomaszewski SI