Just 30 seconds were all that God needed to show Christopher (Krzysztof) Kralka his true vocation: the priesthood.
Yet this young Polish man from Kielce (southeast Poland) had completely turned away from the Church. For many years, he hadn’t even crossed the threshold of any religious building, convinced that the Church was a backward institution that had nothing to do with the modern world view. Until the day when everything changed, during Pope John Paul II’s trip to Poland in August 2002.
That day, the first of the papal visit, Christopher was annoyed. He wondered how he’d survive this event, which was being reported on by all the country’s media. Of course, unlike the majority of his compatriots, he had no intention of watching the television broadcasts.
“I had felt no desire to turn on the television, but that day I felt an incredible inner pressure: the pressure to listen to the Pope’s words. The theme of his pilgrimage was a phrase from the Bible: ‘God is rich in mercy’ (Eph 2:4). The Holy Father explained that Jesus died for all people. I was so moved by the words of that old man that I couldn’t get up from my chair,” the man who a few years later became Father Christopher told Aleteia.
When he began to listen to the words of John Paul II, Christopher felt as if he were in a sort of ecstasy. And when his parents asked him to help them with the gardening, he refused, saying he couldn’t leave the screen because he was watching the Pope.
“They thought it was an excuse for me not to help them! But I was having an experience of God, of his love and acceptance. I felt joy, freedom, and a tremendous peace at that moment. Now I know it was the Holy Spirit,” he recalls. An inner voice whispered to him that he would receive a special gift. “When I told the Lord that I was choosing him, I almost immediately heard his answer in my heart: ‘Become a priest,’” he says.
Fr. Christopher admits that as soon as this moment passed he questioned its reality. “After I stopped listening to the Pope, I had a moment of doubt. At that point, I said ‘no!’ I couldn’t imagine myself as a priest. I was the perfect example of an anticlerical person. To me, priests seemed like inferior people. Humanly speaking, I thought it was really the worst option. But internally, it didn’t take long for the experience to sink in. I recognized with joy and relief the path that God had prepared for me, and that it was this path that would allow my healing and make me happy,” he continues.
That’s why, after about 30 seconds, Christopher finally said “yes” to God. “It was a quick calculation. I realized that either I would lead a life as I had lived it until then, that is, immersed in sin, or I would choose a life in the light, as a priest. And it was not a decision between paths that were ‘more’ or ‘less’ good. No, it was a choice between life and death,” admits Christopher, who has been a Pallottine Father since 2009.
Evangelizing young people
Before, Fr. Christopher’s life had consisted of “pretending, showing my best side, which meant constantly putting on masks.” But God, he says, was able to “break through all that falseness. (…) I have no doubt that he continues to watch me and guide me. He’s there, he watches over me, he inspires me in my true passion: to evangelize young people.” In fact, he currently exercises his ministry at the school of new evangelization created by the Pallottines. He leads spiritual retreats. “I’ve just returned from a retreat for young people preparing them for the sacrament of confirmation.”
“I try to show young people who Jesus is, what he has done for us, and how he can free us from sin and weakness. I explain what happens to a person who accepts Jesus into their life. I also tell them that it’s not humanly possible to overcome evil without God. Finally, I ask them if they want Jesus to free them from sin, that is, from what they cannot bear. It’s up to them to decide if they want to give their lives to Jesus, if they want him to be their Savior,” Fr. Christopher explains. He concludes that it would be good for these young people to know that the Church has a treasure in the person of Jesus, who is the answer to our sufferings and difficulties. He understood this by saying “yes” to Jesus. It only took 30 seconds for Jesus to win his heart.