Faced with two possible career paths—journalism or the priesthood—Father Damian Pielesz chose faith. That path has led the Polish native to Wilton, where he is parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima, assisting Pastor Reggie Norman.
He comes from Jastrzebie Zdroj, a city in the southern part of Poland. After graduating from the local schools and music school he became a newscaster for TVP Katowice, and had his own program on a local television station from 2003 to 2005.
Father Damian says religion has been present throughout his life, and he first considered going into the priesthood at his fifth birthday party, when a priest who was invited told him they were in need of more altar servers.
From that day, he was crazy about Mass. He held his own service in his room every Sunday, with flowers for a microphone and apple juice for wine. His family was always invited.
When he was in music school, he learned to play the piano and trumpet. He still favors the latter, saying, “When I played on the trumpet, music became a source of inspiration and expression.” Father Damian also sees music as a way for people to connect and understand emotion through song.
Going to high school, Father Damian wanted to try something different from the priesthood, something he had been interested in since he was a small child. He was unsure whether he was being called to journalism or faith, and wanted to see how it would go.
Ultimately, God’s calling was stronger, and he says, “I really felt I should be a priest.” For him, there are some clear connections between the priesthood and newscasting. Journalism gave him more confidence to talk to people, which is very important in being a priest. In addition, he said, the work was rewarding, as he started by working the graveyard shift of the late night to early morning and eventually achieved a level of “on-air recognition.”
His career in faith began with readings during Mass and as altar server. The next stop was SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Krakow, the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. The seminary is dedicated to preparing foreign-born seminarians, particularly those of Polish descent, to work for the Roman Catholic Church in America. After he had finished his years there, he arrived at Orchard Lake, Mich., to finish up his English studies at a branch of the same seminary.
His final seminary year was completed in spring 2013 at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg. On May 26, 2013, he celebrated his first Mass at Holy Name of Jesus in Stamford, a Polish-American church.
He had said, “I want to be a priest who knows how to listen, to communicate God’s message effectively and to help those in need.” When asked whether or not he had achieved this goal he answered, “The best analogy I have ever heard in answering this question came from Elder David A. Bednar, who spoke about the priesthood as being an umbrella that covers and protects His children. It is the men’s job to hold the umbrella and make sure it covers us all. So I want to be a priest who wants to cover all people for my whole priesthood. I want to do it every day. It is not something I can achieve once.”
Since then, Father Damian has been a priest within the Diocese of Bridgeport. He enjoys knowing that the United States was founded Christian. The culture is also a very open one, and he believes the people here are friendly. Even the littlest things, like weather changes, American diners (and their food portions), and entertainment, from Broadway to the music that plays on the radio, are appreciated by Father Damian. He believes his first Mass at Our Lady of Fatima was successful, but leaves it up to parishioners to decide.