If Father Stanislaw Fiuk of St. Ann’s Catholic Church were to write an autobiography, the title might be “The Most Interesting Man in the World” -- or something close to it.
“Father Stan,” as he is known in the community, was born in Puszno, Poland, in 1962. His parents and two brothers still live there and he has a sister who lives in Rome.
After being called into ministry, he was ordained June 2, 1990. Since then, he has traveled all around the world, helping to build sanctuaries, schools, and faith, and living in some strange and interesting conditions.
Father Stan began doing the “Lord’s divine work” in Lublin, Poland.
“This was not my decision; it was the decision of God,” Father Stan said. “ I am obedient.”
He spent one year in Lublin before traveling to Ukraine and pastoring a church there.
While in Ukraine, Father Stan not only ministered, he also was on “cemetery duty,” taking care of the grounds in the church’s cemetery -- where he also lived.
“It was hard work!” Father Stan said with a smile. “But I had quiet neighbors -- it was an excellent neighborhood!”
While in Ukraine, Father Stan helped to remodel and rebuild the church after it had been destroyed by communists. He was the church’s first pastor in 60 years, and Father Stan is proud that the church is now in the process of becoming a basilica.
After ministering in Ukraine for seven years, the pastor left his home in the cemetery and traveled to the jungle in Bulo Bulo, Bolivia.
In Bulo Bulo, Father Stan was responsible for the education of more than 2,000 students and teachers in the area. He helped to build a school and hospital, along with bridges and roads.
Father Stan not only served as the priest of the village, but also the doctor. He would administer antibiotics when necessary to the people in the village. Father Stan had to make trips to the United States to ask for funding for the antibiotics, because the Bolivian government would not fund medical equipment for villages in the jungle.
After serving and helping the people of Bulo Bulo for six years -- and learning to sleep with the mosquitoes, Father Stan was called to “the very beautiful” Tuscany, Italy -- a big change in scenery for the pastor. But after one short year in Italy, the archbishop of Poland and the archbishop of San Antonio made an agreement to send Father Stan to San Antonio, Texas.
“Texas is very different for me,” Father Stan said. “After the jungle, I’m in the desert! The Sahara!”
Father Stan ministered in San Antonio in the parishes of St. Luke’s and St. Paul’s before coming to La Vernia in 2008.
Father Stan has contributed greatly to the beautification of the church grounds and the church sanctuary. He loves to garden, he said. He especially loves the olive trees planted around the Stations of the Cross; this installation commemorates the suffering of Jesus Christ.
Great things have been happening since the priest has been at St. Ann’s, said Darlene Koehler, the church secretary. Renovations are costly, but things have just fallen into place, she said.
Father Stan said he hopes renovations to the church sanctuary will be finished soon after Easter. He continues to work outside and in the garden on most days.
The pastor enjoys living in La Vernia, but thinks the town could use a couple of things.
“A Red Lobster and a Home Depot!” he said. Then he would have everything he needed.
Father Stan’s list of favorite things includes grilled salmon, his own homemade chicken soup, McIntosh apples, and books written by Pope Benedict XVI.
He enjoys reading and has a wide variety of books to choose from. He speaks seven different languages, including Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Spanish, Italian -- “and fighting with English.”
He is currently reading Anna Karenina and he recommends it for those who can read Russian.
There isn’t a part of his job that this priest dislikes. He is very busy every day, but doesn’t complain.
“It’s not my work, it’s divine work,” he said.
Mass is celebrated in St. Ann’s Catholic Church every Saturday at 5:30 p.m., most weekdays at 7:30 a.m., and four times on Sunday. The church is located at 14151 U.S. 87 W. in La Vernia.
For more information, call the church office at 830-779-3131 or visit www.stannslv.org .