For six years, Cabrini has been the home of the Rev. Michael Bielecki who started working at the college in 2002. On Feb. 18, Bielecki found out that he will be transferred to a new position within his order under a new superior. His last day at Cabrini will be June 15.
“Ironically, the priest who has been my defense against them moving me from Cabrini is the one who was elected superior of the province,” Bielecki said.
Bielecki stated that the newly elected superior felt that he was very qualified to assist him in his new role. Bielecki’s new position is an elected position that will not be decided until June when the elections are held.
“I said, ‘What happens if I don’t get elected? Can I stay at Cabrini,’ and he said ‘you will be elected.’ It is administrative. That is what saddens me because I will not be in direct contact with people like I am here at Cabrini. The job I will have is internal. It is service to the order and so my contract ends here at Cabrini on June 15. Our meeting where everybody is elected will take place June 13 to June 18,” Bielecki said.
Bielecki then spoke about his time at Cabrini and what it was like when he first arrived six years ago. Bielecki wanted to stay in the area to take care of his elderly mother and he was being transferred from St. Thomas of Villanova Parish in Villanova.
“It was kind of an accident that I found the place and they were looking for someone and I was hired,” Bielecki said.
Bielecki moved onto Cabrini’s campus right away into a room located in the mansion. He started out saying mass on Thursdays and assisting in the celebration of the Sunday evening mass. He also participated in the Search retreats.
“Little by little my duties started to increase. I didn’t think, probably like many freshmen, that I would have lasted the year. I didn’t think I would last until December actually because I had never dealt with people of this age group. When I was with the parish, my basic ministry was with the elderly and the sick because we had a youth minister there. Basically, there was not a lot of activity with young people so when I first came here, I thought I would not be able to relate to these kids,” Bielecki said.
From the beginning of his time at Cabrini, Bielecki was always impressed that everyone felt at home at the college and there was a sense of community. He went on to say that throughout his eight years, he was never disrespected by a student and to him that says a lot about the college.
“Cabrini students are kind of what I would say, what you see is what you get. They are down to earth, friendly and they tell you like it is and I really appreciated the freshness and honesty of young people because lots of times unfortunately when you are in a parish, the people will tell you what they think you want to hear because they want to please father. Students here say what is on their mind. That honesty is a big quality and the fact that the students have been respectful, I am so grateful for that,” Bielecki said.
Bielecki spoke about his appreciation for the Sunday evening masses. He said that there is something special about the masses that energizes him and he hopes that the students in attendance feel the same way.
Bielecki spoke about how the attendance of the Sunday mass has risen over the years since he has been at Cabrini. He said that in his first few years, about 15 students attended the Sunday mass. Now, 60 to 100 students are seen at Sunday mass.
Bielecki then went on to speak about his experience renovating the chapel.
“Probably one of the exciting things about my whole time here was the renovation of the chapel, to make it a space that is welcoming and really enhances what the liturgy is about. We would frequently say at the beginning of the semester that the meaning of the word liturgy is the work of the people all the people and I think the configuration of this chapel makes that obvious,” Bielecki said.
Eventually, Bielecki took courses at the college to receive a degree in religious studies.
Since Bielecki does not yet know what his job will be, he cannot make any immediate commitment to come back to Cabrini and help with certain events. He hopes that he will be able to come back from time to time especially because he is an alumnus of Cabrini.
“From day one, there was a sense of community here and I have really experienced being welcomed, cared for and my gratitude not only to the faculty and administration, but especially to the students because I came here not knowing if this was going to be the right job to apply for and the students made it obvious that their openness to me and ability to accept me was really a blessing and a gift and I am grateful for that,” Bielecki said