Father Adam Kotas
From an early age, I felt a calling to the priesthood as I admired my parish priest in Poland. My generation of youth in Poland idolized and revered Pope John Paul II; we all dreamed of being like him. So, at the height of the Polish pope’s papacy and at the age of 14 I entered Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago’s downtown. I declared “I want to be a holy catholic priest” as I walked through the doors not realizing at the time I said this that “holy” means “different” from its Hebrew root and wow am I different. It is this difference that draws people to seek my ministry and so rather than complain or hide or shy away from this “holiness”, I celebrate it and thank God for it because it is this “difference” that has brought many people to experience God’s love through me.
I have a B.A. from Loyola University Chicago, graduating college in 3 years mainly due to all the college courses I took while in High School and scoring high on Advanced placement tests in different subjects which then gave me lots of college credit. My undergraduate degree from Loyola University Chicago is in both Philosophy and Spanish. Upon my graduation I entered the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in the suburbs of Chicago, where the very famous preacher, Bishop Robert Barron, was one of my professors. During my second year there two of my friends, young men from Poland who were brought to the United States by the archdiocese of Chicago under false pretenses, committed suicide. One of the young man Marcin Kozlowski, who was a classmate of mine, hung himself. The other young man threw himself down from a high-rise building. Young men were being lied to while being recruited in Poland for the seminary in Chicago being told that it would be easy for them to get ordained as priests in the United States and who didn’t want to come to America, so they came. When they arrived they were told unless they passed the TOEFL exam and acclimated themselves to the culture and surroundings they would be dismissed from the seminary which for a young man dreaming of becoming a priest his whole life was like a death sentence especially since their whole family in Poland was already expecting them to be priests. They couldn’t take the pressure and took their own lives. I, along with other Polish seminarians, protested this, as our friends were being murdered by a ruthless and compassion-less and lying system; but the powers that be cared less and so a few of us transferred to the Polish seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan, Ss. Cyril and Methodius. This seminary was originally founded for Polish young men in the United States because the Roman Catholic Church wouldn’t accept Polish candidates for the priesthood, discriminating against Poles seeing them as “dumb polaks” and unfit for higher studies and for the priesthood. It was this horrible experience of ecclesiastical abuse and other powerful experiences of how the institutional Roman Catholic system abuses people that has marked me from that time on.
My time at Ss. Cyril and Methodius seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan was a wonderful time of personal growth as I rediscovered anew the beauty of my roots and my Polish culture and our wonderful traditions and customs. I served in a number of parishes in the archdiocese of Detroit as a seminarian and deacon while studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood. At the same time as I pursued a Master of Divinity degree, M.Div., from the seminary, I also worked on a secular master’s degree. Thus, I have both a Master of Divinity Degree from SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, MI as well as a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University of Detroit Mercy.