Priest with Greene County ties pens fourth book

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Marian Mazgaj, a former Rogersville resident, ordained priest and author, has just released an addition to his series of books that documents the history of Communist Poland.


Mazgaj has dedicated much of his life to the teaching of what his Polish homeland was like prior to the 1939 invasion by the Communist regime.


His fourth book, “I Will Go To The Altar Of God,” describes his unique road to the priestly ordination during the Communist persecution of Christianity in Poland.


This road led from the Polish Secret Home Army through high school, college, seminary and university to the altar of God.


This book follows “Church and State in Communist Poland: A history, 1944-1989,” which is described as, “a story of the triumph of the people over the state.”


That book dealt with a very critical life and death struggle between the Catholic Church and the country’s Communist government, supported by the Soviet Union. The struggle takes place on ideological, legal, economic and educational levels. It follows the methods and patterns developed in the struggle of the Soviet government with the Orthodox Church in Russia after World War I.


But the narrative of “I Will Go To The Altar Of God” does not end with Mazgaj’s priestly ordination at the Cathedral Church in Sandomierz on May 25, 1952, but goes on to describe his pastoral ministry, administrative wore in his former seminary, more graduate studies, seminary teaching, university teaching and more pastoral ministry before his retirement.


The book is about many interesting and great people he encountered in his studies, teaching and priestly work. Among them was Father Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II.


After he was ordained a priest, Mazgaj moved to the United States in June 1957 to continue graduate studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.


His first work in the English language, “The Communist Government of Poland as Affecting the Rights of the Church from 1944 to 1960,” was published as a doctoral dissertation at Catholic University.


It lent itself to providing much of the important details of “Church and State in Communist Poland: A history, 1944-1989,” as did his second book, “In the Polish Secret War: Memoir of a World War II Freedom Fighter,” published in 2009.


His first book was “Visiting Home in Poland After 33 Years,” in which he described his visit to Poland after the fall of Communism.


Mazgaj has served as an interim priest, vicar, chaplain and assistant rector at several locations throughout West Virginia, and was a former instructor of philosophy and humanities at the McKeesport and Fayette campuses of Penn State University.


Now living in Mount Echo, W.Va., Mazgaj assisted at St.. Matthew’s Church in Wheeling and Trinity Church in Moundsville after his retirement.


He married Mildred Juanita Ankrom, and they have two sons: Joseph, who still lives in Rogersville, and Marian of Escondido, Calif.


“I Will Go To The Altar Of God” can be purchased from the Words and Music Book Store, 4 Hyde Park Drive, Wheeling, W.Va., or by calling 304-232-6539.


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