Yesterday, Father Damian Wojtyska died in Poland. I knew him as a holy, prayerful man with very strong convictions. My only visit to Poland was at his invitation to give a talk to the members of the Polish Province when he was Provincial. Here’s a summary of his life’s work from Polish Wikipredia and other sources:
Father Damian Wojtyska, historian, theologian, priest, Passionist, died yesterday at Lodz, Poland. He was 75 years old.
Requiem Mass will be celebrated on 26 March at 9.00 a.m. in the Passionist Church in Lodz (Aleja Pasjonistów 23), and burial on the same day at 1.00 p.m. at the Passionist Church in Rawa Mazowiecka.
Henryk Damian Wojtyska was born on 13 May 1933 near Regiminie Ciechanów. He entered the Passionist Congregation in 1950 and was ordained a priest in 1957. In the years 1958 to 1962, he studied church history at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. His doctoral thesis was on the work of Cardinal Hosius, Legate to the Council of Trent (published in 1967).
In 1969 he became a researcher and lecturer at the Catholic University of Lublin. He obtained his Habilitation (post-doctoral degree) in 1975 on Diplomatic Relations between Poland and the Papacy 1548-1563 (published in 1977), and was appointed the first Professor of the History of Theology at the Catholic University of Lublin, a post he held from 1976 to 1998. Between 1981 and 1983 he was the University’s Vice-Rector for Youth. In the difficult period of martial law, he was accustomed to visiting students who were in custody and accompanying them to court. He organized active assistance for those who need it. For this reason, he enjoyed great respect and the confidence of young people.
From 1985 to 2004, he was a member of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences in the Vatican. In the years 1985-94, he was Vice-President of the Polish Historical Institute in Rome. During these years, he began editing the series Acta Nuntiaturae Polonae, the first ten volumes of which appeared between 1990 and 1994, under his direction. He is the author of the first volume in the series (Acta Nuntiaturae Polonae. T. 1: De fontibus eorumque investigatione et editionibus. Instructio ad editionem. Nuntiorum series chronologica. Rome 1991). He also published studies in the same series on individual nuncios.
A member of the Scientific Society of Lublin and the Scientific Society of the Catholic University of Lublin, the Accademia di San Carlo (Borromeo) and the Reformation Commission of the Historical Committee of the Polska Akademia Nauk. Until 2004, he was a Consultor of the Doctrine of the Faith Commission (Historical Section) for the Polish episcopate.
He was Provincial of the Polish Passionist Province from 1994 to1998. In the years 2006-07, he published a monumental work on the history of the Passionist Congregation in Poland (volume 1 – Prehistory and Foundational Period to 1938, Lodz 2006; volume 2 – War and Occupation 1939-1945, Przasnysz 2007). He also published a book on the Polish Passionist Martyrs of World War II (Przasnysz 2008).
After a long and severe illness, Father Damian died in the Passionist monastery in Lodz, Poland, on 24 March 2009.