Fathers of Courage

Father Anthony Krotki, O.M.I. was ordained in his home country of Poland, and began serving the Diocese of Churchill in Hudson Bay, Canada, in 1990. The parish spans 1.4 million square miles—the largest based on land mass. But with just 9,000 parishioners, it is one of the smallest.

“It’s a very hard place to live so we don’t worry about the rest of the world much,” said Fr. Anthony. “But the North is a place of incredible joy because we are never alone, we are always part of a strong Inuit family.”

“I come from the end of the earth.”

Bishop Krotki, OMI As the leader of the Diocese of Churchill – Hudson Bay in Canada, Bp. Anthony Krotki, O.M.I. is in charge of one of the largest, and smallest diocese in the world.

By land, the diocese covers about 1.4 million square miles of primarily Inuit territory. By population, there are only 9,000 Catholics living in isolated missions with names like Whale Cove, Arctic Bay and Coral Harbour.

“It’s a very hard place to live so we don’t worry about the rest of the world much,” said Bp. Tony. “But the North is a place of incredible joy because we are never alone, we are always part of a strong Inuit family.”

Just a year after being ordained in his native Poland, Fr. Tony arrived in the Canadian Arctic in 1990 to minister in some of the world’s most isolated Catholic missions. He served as pastor of several mission churches before being named the local bishop in 2013. His entire diocese includes just seven priests, five of whom are Missionary Oblates.

The Oblates have been ministering in the far north of Canada for more than 100 years. The harsh climate makes their ministries some of the most difficult in the world.

Bishop Tony experiences this harshness often, including a near-death experience when his snowmobile broke down on an eight-hour trip to a mission site. Navigating by the North Star in subzero weather, Bp. Tony eventually arrived at the mission site several hours late after nearly freezing to death.

“At a point during that ordeal I had no feeling in my face. I thought I was done,” said Bp. Tony. “All I could do was pray and look to the North Star for guidance, and God delivered me to safety.”

Bishop Tony says the people who live in these small, isolated villages are the most resilient people he has ever met. One young couple, Yolanda and Levi, remind Bp. Tony that no matter what hardships are put in your path, they can be overcome with help from your Inuit family and God.

Bishop Kortki, OMI Yolanda and Levi had five children die and had given up hope. In talking with Bp. Tony, they decided to try again and gave birth to a son. They named him Tony in honor of Bp. Tony. In the hospital in Ottawa, Yolanda played hymns sung by Bp. Tony in her native language so little Tony would already know part of his culture when they returned to the village.

Seven months later, little Tony died. It was a devastating time for the young couple, Bp. Tony, and the entire Inuit family. As people gathered at the couple’s house, Bp. Tony was so overcome with grief that he couldn’t talk with anyone. He sat in a corner of the room. Then a 5-year-old came over to him and gave him a hug, and said the most healing words possible: “Tony I love you.”

“This little girl hugged me so hard that I couldn’t breathe,” said Bp. Tony. “It was as if God had given me a squeeze to remind me that I was loved and that things would be O.K.”

As he travels throughout the vast Arctic, Bp. Tony carries a crosier that was made from a neighbor’s prune tree in his native Poland. Bishop Tony’s sister had the cane made to remind her brother of where his faith journey began. As a rambunctious child, Bp. Tony used to steal prunes from that tree.

The crosier is symbolic of Bp. Tony’s faith journey. On one side of the cane the wood is not impressive. It is rough and has several cracks. On the other side, however, the wood is beautiful, smooth and pristine.

“God can take the roughness and cracks in our lives and turn it into something beautiful shiny and wonderful,” said Bp. Tony. “All we have to do is trust in Him.”

With your support, Missionary Oblates worldwide serve their communities facing incomprehensible hardship.  With your prayers and financial support, this blessed work can continue.  Please consider giving today to help us bring Christ’s healing and peace to every corner of the world.

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