In Memoriam: Fr. Maciej Zięba, O.P. (1954–2020) - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

In Memoriam: Fr. Maciej Zięba, O.P. (1954–2020)

We are sorry to report that Fr. Maciej Zięba, O.P., has died in his native Wrocław, Poland. He passed away from cancer this past New Year’s Eve, bringing a year of such terrible loss to a truly sad end.

A priest and member of the Polish province of the Order of Preachers, Fr. Zięba spent more than 30 years writing, debating, and teaching in an effort to promote both the Catholic faith and a common life dedicated to truth and beauty. Among his literary contributions was Papal Economics: The Catholic Church on Democratic Capitalism, which ISI was proud to publish. In it, he showed how a defense of capitalism and democracy is consonant with the broad social teachings of the Catholic Church.

In 2013, just moths after Pope Francis was elevated to the papacy, Fr. Zięba came to the United States to present on Papal Economics. His ISI-sponsored tour took him to such institutions as the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, the Catholic University of America, and First Things.  

As his friend George Weigel tells it, Zięba’s “life was dramatically changed by John Paul II’s first pilgrimage to Poland in June 1979. Hearing the pope’s eloquent summons to Poles to reject the communist culture of the lie by reclaiming the truth about themselves as a nation, the young university student of physics thought, ‘We might have to live and die under communism. But I can live without being a liar.’ Opportunities to act on that determination multiplied when the Solidarity movement was born in the fall of 1980. Maciej Zięba quickly became involved.”

Among Fr. Zięba’s many accomplishments was the founding of the Tertio Millennio Institute. The Institute played host to scores of young people each summer for its Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society, whose purpose was to “deepen the dialogue on Catholic social doctrine between North American students and students from the new democracies of central and eastern Europe.”

At Fr. Zięba’s funeral, the prime minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, had this to say about the Dominican’s legacy:

“The Archbishop said beautifully in his introductory word that we believe that the good that Father Maciej did here on earth will lead him to God’s throne. It will probably be so, it may already be so. But I firmly believe that the good that Father Maciej spread here on earth is in our hearts and will bear fruit in the future.” 

No doubt, not only because of the good work he did among young people seeking truth and hope in a world of confusion and despair, but also because of his personal witness both in his native Poland and through his written works, such as Papal Economics. His voice and his vision will be sorely missed.

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