‘Holy Spirit hasn’t made a mistake,’ friend says of Wypych

By Alicja Pozywio | Staff writer
Sunday, August 14, 2011

It was not a surprise for Father Joe Mulcrone, resident at St. Francis Borgia Parish and director of the archdiocese’s Office of the Deaf, when his friend and pastor Father Andrew Wypych was appointed bishop on June 13.

“I have been a priest to the Archdiocese of Chicago for 40 years and I kind of knew that he must have been on the list,” said Mulcrone. Before he met Bishop Wypych, Mulcrone first encountered his dog Reks.

About eight years ago, Cardinal George appointed Father Wypych pastor of St. Francis Borgia Parish. Mulcrone didn’t know the new pastor and one day, “I opened the door and there was Reks,” said Mulcrone.

Reks was a dog with some personality. “He would get upset with Andrew when he went away. We all came to love Reks, who died a couple years ago,” said Mulcrone.

Asked what he had learned about Bishop Wypych, after eight years of living under the same roof, Mulcrone said, “He is not a pretentious person, he is who he is — a very humble guy.”

Bishop Wypych’s leaving St. Borgia Parish is bittersweet for Mulcrone. “He has been a good pastor. It is hard to see him leave, but I know that whatever he will do in Vicariate V, he will do very well. He will bring the sense of a church rather than just a community,” said Mulcrone.

Mulcrone said he will miss his conversations with Wypych.

“He is very intelligent and very well read. He really knows the history of Poland and church history,” said Mulcrone. According to him, the biggest challenge for Wypych as a bishop will be to attend all the receptions he will be invited to. “He neither smokes nor drinks, but he likes sweets. Cakes, cookies, pies. He likes anything that is baked,” said Mulcrone.

“The Holy Spirit hasn’t made a mistake with Father Andrew becoming a bishop,” said Father Idzi Stacherczak, the pastor of St. Pricilla Parish. Stacherczak has known Bishop Wypych for 18 years. Even though they spend a lot of free time together, he learned that his close friend became a bishop from the archdiocese’s website.

“This is why he didn’t want to stop for a cup of a tea the night before the announcement,” said Stacherczak.

He values Bishop Wypych as a priest and as friend. “He loves the church and he loves the priesthood. He never talks badly about any priest,” said Stacherczak.

Close to the bishop’s heart is education. “He wants the Catholic schools of our archdiocese to be strong in faith and modern in methods and technology used for teaching. He believes it is realistic,” said Stacherczak.

As a friend Bishop Wypych is trustful and calm. “You feel really laid back around him. It is good to spend some time with him,” said Stacherczak. And he is courageous. “He knows how to stand up for his beliefs. He is not afraid to defend the church or Christ,” said Stacherczak.

According to him Bishop Wypych has two hobbies: theology and antiques. “He likes to visit antique malls,” said Stacherczak.

Another friend said Bishop Wypych is a good listener.

“You can go to him with everything from parish, family to personal problems,” said Father Piotr Gnoinski, the associate pastor at St. Francis Borgia Parish from 2005-2011. If Gnoinski had to describe Bishop Wypych with one phrase it would be: a man with hard-working hands and a soft heart, especially to those with broken hearts.

From the number of times Bishop Wypych says he’s thankful, Gnoinski thinks that the bishop’s favorite Bible passage should be: “Be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thes 5:18). Gnoinski has never seen the bishop lose his temper. “When he faces really a difficult situation he takes his time to respond, not because he doesn’t care, but because he needs time to think the problem through,” said Gnoinski.

During the six years they spent working at the same parish, Bishop Wypych was first a pastor, then a father, friend and a brother in priesthood to him. “He is tactful, humble, disciplined, smart and has a sense of humor. He never looks down on anybody,” said Gnoinski.

A touching moment for Gnoinski was when he found out that Bishop Wypych sent a Christmas card to his parents in Poland. “Every year he sends out over 300 cards. I couldn’t believe he remembered my family in Poland,” said Gnoinski.

Bishop Andrew Wypych

Born on: Dec. 5, 1954 in Kazimierza Wielka, Poland
Ordained: April 29, 1979, in Krakow
Came to Chicago: March 27, 1983
Incardinated: Sept. 1, 1989
Parents: Henryka Luty and Julian Wypych, both deceased
Siblings: One brother, who died in infancy.