AN UNTYPICAL MONK
ANNA PRZEWOŹNIK TALKS WITH BROTHER TADEUSZ
Tomasz Stasiak – aged 57, married for 27 years. Father of a 24-year-old son. He worked for over 30 years as a manager. He was a councilor and a vice-president of the City Council of Piotrków. He has been a widower for 5 years. He joined the Benedictines Order in Tyniec in June 2013. He received Tadeusz name. This year he has taken the first temporary vows. He is one of brothers in the Abbot of the Benedictines in Tyniec
ANNA PRZEWOŹNIK: - Did it have to happen so?
BROTHER TADEUSZ: - Ewa died 5 years ago. We were a happy married couple, we were never apart longer than 24 hours and I never spoke to her or about her in a different way than: Ewunia. After her death in 2010 I heard a question whether I had not lost faith through the fact that the love had been taken away from me suddenly. I answered to myself: no, but even on contrary. Two months before the death of my wife, we decided that we wanted to see the monastery in Tyniec. We had been there for the first time then and that place impressed on us. That journey to Tyniec was not accidental. I understood when God called Ewunia to Himself. At once I knew that Tyniec was my place on earth. Therefore soon after the funeral I told my son that I wanted to join the Order. At that time it was my choice, now this is my home. On the one hand the co-called late vocations are difficult, but on the other hand – one has some experiences. I felt prepared for it. It had to happen so.
- Did Brother understand his road for the rest of life soon after the death of your wife?
- I even think that my marriage was a kind of retreat which prepared us for where I am now. Ewunia is in a better world, and I am in the Order and support people with my prayer. The beginning and discernment of it were my theological studies in Warsaw. Later a pilgrimage. In 2012 I set off to Rome on foot, I had unusual energy and strength. I sometimes made 50, 60 kilometres a day. I knew that when I got there, it would be a confirmation of my choice of life in the Order. That pilgrimage was the beginning of my monastic life. I was simply following God’s voice. Without unnecessary questions: why, or will I….I did not analyze it, but I was simply following God’s voice. It was also my life road. That pilgrimage was a summary of my previous life and beginning a new one – in the monastery. It prepared me to devote myself to God. Once my wife told me: ‘Remember, when I die first, you cannot be alone’. And it happened so, that I am not alone, but I am in a community.
- How did your family react to your decision about joining the Order?
- Without any enthusiasm. There was a lot of misunderstanding. My mum asked me why. Today I know that they were afraid of losing me. Finally, they understood that it was my road. At the time of the novitiate I had a limited contact with my family, who could visit me only twice a year. I could phone my son and mum only once a month or send a letter. Although I am a monk, I am still a father, brother, son. I have various experiences and I try to share them with others.
- How does Brother evaluate these two years from the perspective of today?
- It is impossible to describe! This is looking for God every day and living with Him, which is simply idyllic. God always stretches out His arms to us, whether laymen or a person in the Order. There is only a question whether we want to grab them.
In the Book of Rules St. Benedict wrote that ‘boredom is an enemy of a soul’. Here every hour is filled. The breviary prayers are said together with other brothers. The monastery must be treated as a house in which there must be order, everybody must take care of fulfilling their duties. At present there are 36 of us, brothers. We have wake-up time at 5.30. we must tidy up and do washing-up by ourselves. However, first of all, time is fulfilled by prayers, 5 times a day. The first prayer is before breakfast, the last one – the Compline – at 8.15 p.m., at the end of the day. Later there is Silentium, that is, silence time, without any talks. In our Order there is a custom that if one of brothers is wearing a hood, it means that he is engrossed in prayers, reflections and should not be talked to. My professional experiences are also useful in the monastery. I am a cashier and I help an extraordinary minister and in the archive room I am responsible for a section of old prints. I am also one of 5 brothers, who guide tourists around the monastery in Tyniec.
- How does Brother’s earlier life influence the current one?
- Surely, it does. For the whole time of novitiate I was treated individually just because of my earlier life. My life is known, each of my co-brothers knows that I have a son. It was a bit difficult for me. However, what is most important, is understanding one’s road of life and a decision of superiors. After all, the final decision belongs to them. One joins the Order by his own will, although after being accepted one must exercise oneself in humility. As a widower I have this privilege that after my death, under the consent of my family, I can be buried next to my wife.
Brothers had to get used to a bit different monk; get to know his searching for God. Although we hear that widowers can also be consecrated, when it directly concerns a particular community, its members must refer to it personally.
I am happy that I could – on 6 January 2016 – receive monastic vows and become one of the brothers. For me it is a new baptism and new birth for God.
Some people ask, are surprised, how it is possible to leave a good work, material conditions (over 6 thousand zlotys monthly) and close up in a monastery. Whereas I…would really like God let me celebrate the Eucharist at least once in my life. Then I could say that I have got everything. However, it is not my will here.