The Drelów Parish is
well known among the people of the Międzyrzec region for its Uniate
traditions. On the 17th of January 1874, the church was taken from the
Uniate people and turned into an Orthodox Church. It was then that 13 Uniate
Christians were killed for their faith. In the summer of 1915, after the
tsar's army left the area, Drelów was occupied by the Germans; the church
was turned into a granary, the presbytery into a dairy, other buildings on
church grounds into different military devices. This lasted until 17th
November 1918, when the Germans where disarmed.
Karol Leonard Wajszczuk came to Drelów on Friday, 17th January 1919, in the
morning, together with father Leon Wydżga, the parish priest of St.
Nicholas' parish in Międzyrzec. The noble guests were greeted by the people
of Drelów and nearby villages, who had gathered in front of the church, in
the traditional way, with salt and bread. The parish priest of Międzyrzec
presented father Wajszczuk to the gathered people as the person, to whom the
bishop had given the task of rebuilding the Drelów parish. The villagers
were moved to tears. At once, a "Temporary Church Council" was
created. Michał Zieniuk, a respected Drelów farmer, became president of
this council. During the first few
days, the presbytery was cleaned up, the furnaces, windows and doors were
repaired, the wooden elements were painted, and the walls were whitened.
Father Wajszczuk began living on the church grounds on the 20th of January
and personally supervised all the work. This first work took over two months
to do. During this period, father Wajszczuk visited every village, which was
to become part of the newly organised parish.
On the 4th of April 1919, the Drelów Roman
Catholic parish was officially erected. On the 26th of April, father Karol
Leonard Wajszczuk received an official designation from the Diocese for the
post of parish priest.
Apart from his duties
as a parish priest, in the autumn of 1919, father Karol Wajszczuk took on
the duties of a religion teacher in elementary schools in Drelów, Łózki,
Żerocin, some time later - in Kwasówka. This work he continued until 1939.
In the care for the parish's life, as well as for continuing the worship of
St. Onufry, he brought up the idea of tidying up the abandoned church in
Horodek. On the 12th of June 1919, on St. Onufry's day, the official
consecration of the church was performed. The Drelów parish priest knew
very well that leaving this temple in the open country would be thoughtless,
so in the spring of 1920, he brought a "hermit" to live there,
making a living from charitable donations. The man gave himself into God's
service and took care of the place of worship without asking for pay.
In the autumn of 1920,
in order to raise the effectiveness of the household and farm, he employed a
farmer, Michał Strok, and a housekeeper, Franciszka Wisztel. The choice
turned out to have been good, both of these two people stayed with the
priest throughout the interwar period. In the care for the development of
religious life in the parish, father Wajszczuk started organising a "rosary
brotherhood" and the "third order of St. Francis - the tertiaries".
In order to do this, on the 25th of April 1921, he sent a
letter to the bishop of Podlasie, asking for support in trying to get the
proper authorisation in the Holy See. The church authorities agreed to do
this. An important event of that period was the installation of a large bell,
named "Stanisław", in the church belfry. The bell served the
parish until 1940, when Ukrainian nationalists destroyed it.
the mid '20s, father Wajszczuk became friends with the Drelów school
teachers: Leżyński, A. Kocukowa and A. Ząbkówna; he was also in good
relations with the tenant of Drelów grange, Markowski. It was then, that,
with father Karol's personal engagement, a youth choir at the Drelów church
and theatre troupes in Łózki and Drelów were formed. During the first
five years of the church choir's existence, father Karol was its main figure.
He chose the repertoire for the specific occasions, took care of the vocal
exercises and rehearsed with the whole choir. In 1929 he was replaced in this by the new organist, Antoni
Patkowski. The choir he worked with received the second place in Voivodeship
competition in Lublin in 1937. The older villagers of the Drelów parish to
this day remember their organist of those times - Antoni Patkowski; he was a
faithful friend of father Karol and, like him, died a martyr's death for his
faithfulness to the Church and his country.
father Wajszczuk organised a restoration of the interior of the church in
Horodek. In the same year, a chapel in Łózki was consecrated. At the same
time, the parishioners began gathering money to buy an organ for the Drelów
church. In mid August 1931 father Wajszczuk was given an important
distinction. In accordance with a disposition of the president of the
Republic of Poland, from the 7th of July 1931, he was awarded the "Independence
Cross" for his doings in the area of regaining independence
by Poland. Father Karol was deeply moved when he received this distinction,
considering it a kind of social recognition.
the 8th of November 1936, a monument to the Polish Military Organisation (POW)
was unveiled in Łózki. For many months during the First World War, father
Wajszczuk had been army chaplain of the POW region Kąkolewnica - Turów.
Later, during the Second World War, he also joined in the organisation of
the underground armed forces. The monument in Łózki was particularly meant
to honour members of the POW from the Drelów and Łózki region, which had
been killed in the war.
In the autumn of 1938, all of Poland got to
know the Drelów parish. "Gazeta Świąteczna" no. 3009 from the
2nd of October 1938, wrote: The bishop of Podlasie, H. Przeździecki told
the priests in his diocese to ask their parishioners to leave the following
information in the parish offices:
- Were they prosecuted for their faith by
the Russian government in Podlasie, for example in Hołubla, Drelów,
Pratulin or anywhere else?
- Did they see the torment of the Uniates?
- Did they take part in the funerals of
- Did they hear anything about the uniates'
torment from eyewitnesses? What, where, from who?
- Did they hear about funerals of killed
uniates from eyewitnesses?
- If they called for mediation of the
tormented uniates in their prayers did they receive any kind of graces
from God, for example - coming back to health?
The call was to be repeated on four Sundays.
The answers were to be sent to the diocese in Siedlce before
Father Wajszczuk repeated the bishop's
order three times in his church. The descendants and relatives of the
uniates killed in the church cemetery in 1874 brought many different
informations to the parish office. The parish priest sent all this material
to Siedlce. However, the uniates' case was thrown into the shade by two
events: the sudden death of bishop Przeździecki and the outbreak of the
Second World War.
The events that followed, connected with
Hitler and Mussolini's aggression in 1939, brought anxiety to the Polish
people. War was coming close. Facing the coming danger, the conference of
bishops of Poland, organised in Warsaw, in April 1939, issued an appeal to
priests and followers, asking for full readiness for sacrifice in the need
for the defence of the country's independence. Father Karol Wajszczuk was
very scrupulous in fulfilling this appeal. He conducted services for the
welfare of Poland and for peace in the World. Afterwards, almost to the end
of 1939, during German occupation, he concluded Sunday services by singing
the supplication and "Boże coś Polskę".