Brother Jan Janoszka, SA, chose to live in an environment where Catholics were in the minority.
Surrounded by different faith traditions in the suburbs of London, he was captivated by ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. That fascination led him to the Society of the Atonement.
“I wanted to be in a community where ecumenism and interfaith dialogue is very important,” Brother Jan said. “As a Catholic community, we were a minority. I felt drawn to the ministry to help people to experience God through the Sacraments. I felt this kind of invitation to consecrate my life, to make God available to everyone through being with the people.”
Brother Jan took that path and made his first vows as an Atonement Friar five years ago. On Sunday, January 22, he came full circle and professed his final vows at Graymoor’s Our Lady of the Atonement Chapel.
He was joined by Deacon Tom Malone, TSA; Deacon Tom Rich, TSA; and Deacon Gary Swane, TSA, who each made their final professions as Tertiaries of the Society of the Atonement. Brother Kevin Elphick also made his first profession as a Tertiary.
“It was a beautiful ceremony of vows and promises with our Deacons, the Tertiaries. To have something together was special,” Brother Jan said. “I had a feeling of enormous, profound joy.”
As a person drawn deeply to ecumenism, Brother Jan found it particularly special that he took his final vows during 2023 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year’s theme is “Do good; seek justice,” taken from Isaiah 1:17.
“There was an underlying significance that this solemn consecration took place during the Week of Prayer because it matches with our charism,” said Brother Jan, a 55-year-old Friar who was born in Bytom, Poland, but spent his first 18 years in Piekary Śląskie – where the first ecumenical seeds were planted in his life.
Hours after the ceremony, the Friars attended an ecumenical service of the word at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in-the-Highlands.
Having made his final profession as an Atonement Friar, Brother Jan is seeking ordination in the diaconate, and subsequently, the priesthood.
After making his first profession of vows in 2018, Brother Jan left his ministry at St. Anselm’s Catholic Church in Southall, London, England and entered his one-year novitiate at the Friars’ formation house in Assisi. When the COVID-19 pandemic later struck and he was unable to travel, he spent two years studying and specializing in ecumenism.
“I’m lucky that I could use that time to study,” Brother Jan said, “and at the same time, continue in formation as a Friar.”
Brother Jan previously spent part of his life with refugee services and traveled to marginalized areas. In places like Calcutta, Tijuana, North Africa and suburban London, he spent time with the poor and helped bring God’s message of healing to them.
“It’s a kind of environment where I feel at home,” Brother Jan said. “Where the Church is to be with people and to serve them, to make God present by being with them.”
Three Tertiaries Make Final Vows, One Makes First Vows
Brother Jan wasn’t the only one who made his final profession of vows.
Deacon Tom Malone, TSA; Deacon Tom Rich, TSA; and Deacon Gary Swane, TSA made their final profession of vows as Tertiaries of the Society of the Atonement. Conversely, Brother Kevin Elphick made his first profession as a Tertiary.
Deacon Tom Rich is the Executive Director of Graymoor’s Holy Mountain Franciscan Retreat Center as well as the Friars’ Vocations Director.
“It’s very joyous for me. It’s something that I’ve longed for, for many years,” Deacon Tom Rich said. “My original desire was to join the Friars of the Atonement back in 1969 and things changed. But here I am, many years later, and I’ve made my final profession as a Tertiary Atonement Friar. And it’s just a very joyous occasion.”
Deacon Tom Malone joined the Tertiaries of the Society of the Atonement ad experimentum in January of 2020. Deacon Tom has volunteered, serving at both the Cancer Care Unit and Pastoral Care at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, New York and in Pastoral Care at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, New York. He is involved with the Marriage Ministry – Pre-Cana and FOCCUS, at St. Raymond of Penyafort in East Rockaway, New York.
Deacon Gary, likewise, was welcomed into the Tertiaries of the Society of the Atonement ad experimentum in January of 2020. He is involved in the Consolation and Bereavement Support ministry at St. Louis de Montfort in South Beach, New York. He attended the Pastoral Formation Institute and received his training in preparation for the Permanent Diaconate through the Diocese of Rockville Centre. He was ordained to the Order of Permanent Deacons in 1993.
Brother Kevin is originally from Kendall Mills, New York and lives in North Huron, New York. Like Brother Jan, he was attracted to the Friars’ charism and involvement in ecumenism.
“I really like the Atonement charism of ecumenism. So, I’m very drawn to that,” Brother Kevin said. “I’m really glad that I can be a part of this now. It’s really nice.”