Father Peter Adamski. / Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Peter Adamski
CNA Staff, Nov 9, 2023 / 10:00 am (CNA).
At age 66, Father Peter Adamski became a priest in the town of Stratford, Connecticut, at St. James Church. But his path to the priesthood was not your typical journey.
As a teenager, Adamski believed the Lord was calling him to be a priest. That quickly changed when one day on his college campus, at age 19, he laid eyes on Kathy, the woman who would become his wife of 40 years.
“I go up this set of stairs and I see this vision leaning against the wall,” Adamski told EWTN correspondent Colm Flynn in an interview for “EWTN News In Depth.”
It was love at first sight, Adamski said, and the two married less than two years later.
Adamski joined the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson at the age of 26 and quickly became a successful businessman.
“I was attracted to the art of the deal,” he explained. “And I wound up working in the corporate treasurer’s office doing deals globally for J&J.”
While Peter never missed his Sunday obligation to attend Mass, he admitted that his prayer life and even his marriage were falling by the wayside.
Peter and Kathy Adamski. Credit: Courtesy of Father Peter Adamski
One day, Kathy confronted him in his office: “She said, ‘Peter, you cannot serve both God and mammon and your corporate career is your mammon and you’re jeopardizing this marriage.’”
“She was absolutely right. I mean, I was so driven by climbing up that corporate ladder. It was never enough,” he said. “I needed more, more, and more.”
Adamski took this as a wake-up call and began to focus more on his marriage. Soon after, he and his wife had a son, John. Everything seemed to be going perfectly for the family of three until they received unexpected news: Kathy was diagnosed with cancer and early-onset Alzheimer’s.
“The toughest day of our lives together was Oct. 28, 2010, when we walked out of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital,” he shared. “‘At the age of 61, you have early onset Alzheimer’s.’”
“I can still see us embracing on the sidewalk knowing what we were just told — there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, it’s the long goodbye. And I knew that our vision of us growing old and stooped over and gray hair together wasn’t going to happen.”
Peter and Kathy Adamski with their son, John. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Peter Adamski
He added: “If Kathy were sitting here today, she would tell you those seven different cancers that she had, the kidney disease, the kidney transplant — it was the Alzheimer’s diagnosis that was the toughest.”
Over the years to come, Kathy began to slowly lose her memory. She began to ask the same questions repeatedly and anytime Adamski had to leave the house, even just to walk the dog, he had to leave sticky notes around the house reminding her of where he was.
It was when Kathy forgot where the two of them got married that Peter said, “it was like a knife going into your heart.”
Despite the suffering he went through, Adamski never questioned God as to why this was happening to him.
“Look at him on the cross, what he did for us on that cross — talk about sacrificial love.”
Kathy died on Oct. 10, 2014, in Peter’s arms at home.
“I had my right hand clutching her right hand, I’m stroking her hair, I’m telling her how much I loved her, thanking her for sharing her life with me, giving me a son, and telling her that she was about to see the face of Christ,” he recalled.
“And while I’m reciting the Lord’s Prayer, I watched her take her last breath. A more peaceful, holy death … that was the happy death.”
Three days before Kathy passed away, she shared some final words with her husband.
“She spoke the last words she ever spoke to me,” Adamski said. “I said, ‘I’m thinking about becoming a priest,’ and her last words to me were ‘Peter, you go for it and if there’s any way, I will comfort you.’”
He explained that it was as if he could hear the Lord say, “Now you’re mine.”
Father Peter Adamski. Credit: Photo courtesy of Father Peter Adamski
Adamski decided to give away his luxuries in order to live a more simple life, saying he then felt “free.”
“When I saw my wife in my living room about to pass over, all of the stuff that we had meant nothing, meaningless. It was all gone. What matters was the love that we shared,” he said.
Adamski has been a priest for four years now and calls it “a joyful experience.” He said he believes his marriage helped him to be a better priest, although he does not advocate for married priests and believes the two need to be “separated.”
Now, at the age of 70, he feels his life is more fulfilled than ever before, even as he holds Kathy’s memory close to his heart. His son, John, attends many of his Masses.
“I wake up every single morning saying, ‘Lord, I do everything today for your honor and glory and thank you for my priesthood.’”
You can view the entire interview with Adamski on “EWTN News In Depth” below: