An Inspirational Substitution


The Detroit Oakland Serra Club has been fostering and encouraging vocations here in the Detroit area since 1965.  Part of what keeps us going and helps to keep our eye on the target – vocations, is to have inspired speakers at one of our meetings each month.

At one of our meetings a couple of weeks ago, our Vice President of Programs, Tom Ryan, who works at finding those inspirational speakers, had had a speaker lined up but at the last minute the speaker could not make it and there was no time to find a substitute!

Well, Tom looked around and realized that the beloved priest that has been our chaplain for nearly 20 years has never really shared the story of his “path to the priesthood”, and he agreed to step in as speaker.

The story started with telling of his Polish immigrant parents settling in Southwest Detroit and starting their family of two children.

Father Edward Prus was born in 1929 and had one sister who died as a young child.  He was educated in Catholic School in River Rouge.  It was around the eighth grade that he had his first thoughts of entering the seminary, but was hesitant because of his difficulty with Latin, the language of the church at that time.

After graduating high school in 1947, Father found a job with the Detroit Edison Company, worked there for a couple of years and then was drafted into the Korean War in 1950.  He said he was happy to be drafted because he wanted his life to have meaning.

Instead of going to Korea however, Father was sent to France and served as a Quartermaster.  From there he traveled back and forth from Frankfurt Germany to Paris France and other cities collecting and dry cleaning the troop’s uniforms.  He enjoyed the job and has always had the feeling that “everything that happens to you has a purpose”.

In December 1952, his father had a heart attack, so Father had to return home from the Service.  Being now an only child, there was a question in his life as to what course to take; whether to take care of his aging parents or to go to seminary.  His father, now recovered, assured him that God would be there to take care of him and his wife, and he encouraged him to go to the seminary.

Father served God in many places including Ireland and Brazil, (where he had to learn Portuguese), was for five years the Spiritual Director at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and then twelve years as Pastor at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Church in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Father’s talk was not a planned speech but rather a “journey of faith” lived by a remarkable man.

We had an unplanned, highly inspirational journey in the shoes of an 89-year-old living saint.  When beautiful things like this happen and instead of a planned speech we heard a truly spellbinding journey of Faith, is it a “fortunate coincidence” or is it “divine orchestration”?  Everything that happens to you has a purpose”.

Jim Pontius


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