Andrew (Marian) Giba, O.F.M.

September 7, 2022

1930-2022

Marian was born May 1, 1930 in Antónowka, Poland to Anthony and Anna (née Bukowiecka). During his early youth, Poland was experiencing national uncertainties. In 1943 with German complicity, Ukrainians living on Polish soil killed thousands of Poles for territorial gain. Young Marian was among the other thousands placed on trains and transported to Germany. After a few weeks in detention camps, the refugees were sent to farms and factories operated by the Third Reich. Marian, his parents, two brothers and two sisters were moved to a work farm in Bavaria where they were freed by the arrival of the Allies in 1945.

The occupation forces urged the refugees to return to their hometowns. Because of the spread of Communism in Poland, the Giba family decided not to return to Poland. For the next five years, their home was among several DP camps. Eventually they contacted a cousin in Detroit, Michigan and in 1950 arrived in New York harbor.

After arriving in America, Marian and his family made their way to Chicago, Illinois. His father found a factory job and Marian worked alongside his father as a miller. During this time, Marian met Bro. Damase Zakrewski, an agent for the Miesięcznik Franciszkański (Franciscan Message). He kept in contact with Bro. Damase and after a brief visit to Burlington, Wisconsin, wrote to Fr. Theophane Kalinowski, Provincial Minister of the ABVM Province, and requested entrance into the Franciscan Order.

In January 1953, Marian packed his bags and traveled to the ABVM Monastery, Pulaski, Wisconsin. There he began his life as a friar, receiving the name Andrew. He was assigned to Franciscan Publishers, working with Bro. Stanley Furman, learning to use machinery that folded, cut, and stitched printed materials.

After completing his novitiate in 1957, Andrew was assigned to help Bro. Flavian Pol and Bro. Stephen Domka in the kitchen of St. Bonaventure Minor Seminary High School in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. However, Andrew’s talent at the printery was missed. In 1959, he was transferred to Pulaski where he worked with Bro. Stanley Furman. Andrew professed solemn vows in 1960 in Burlington, Wisconsin.  He would then spend the next 22 years with Bro. Benignus Szajko opening, reading, recording, and forwarding business correspondence to the proper in-house offices.

From 1972 until 1983, Andrew was the house editor for Pan z Wami (the Lord be with you), the monthly Polish missalette associated with the Orchard Lake Schools in Orchard Lake, Michigan. He proofread the documents from front to back, all done with failing eyesight.

From the mid 1970’s to 1991, Andrew exerted much effort packaging and sending clothing and medicine to Poland. Included, but carefully wrapped within the contents of these boxes, were religious articles and Bibles, which the Communists either never found or politely ignored. Nothing was ever confiscated.

To pay the postage for sending boxes to Poland, Andrew collected and sorted used postage stamps. The stamps were then separated, catalogued and sold to used stamp buyers. Andrew’s work attracted the attention of other area organizations. In 1981, when martial law was declared in Poland, many young people escaped to Austria and eventually to the United States. Many U.S. diocesan officials contacted Andrew and requested his bilingual skills for processing the new arrivals. Andrew also accompanied many of these future American citizens to such places as job placement and the social security offices. The Immigration Office in Green Bay also requested Andy’s help because of his facility with the Polish language. Andy readily responded.

In 1987, after some thirty years of publishing God’s Word, deteriorating eyesight forced Andrew to seek other ways to be of service to the community. Armed with nothing more than Fr. Edgar Smigiel’s recipes and the best of intentions, he bravely donned a baker’s cap and reopened the friary bakery. After an eight-hour crash course on the fine tips of baking from Fr. Edgar, Andrew began work with the motto, “practice makes perfect.”

In 1993, the old brick friary, which stood proudly for decades, was demolished and replaced with a smaller, more efficient building with no designated bakery. This prompted Andrew to request a transfer to Queen of Peace Friary, Burlington. After six years, he returned to Pulaski. This time as guardian of the greenhouse.  However, with age comes difficulty bending and lifting. At the age of 87, it was a return to Queen of Peace Friary for the ministry of prayer and retirement.

In the winter of 2020, COVID raced through Queen of Peace Friary. With many of the friars dealing with compromised health issues, it was no surprise that Andrew contracted the virus. At the age of 90, the effects of COVID lingered and Andrew found more and more health issues surfacing.  After several conversations, it was determined that Andrew would move to the Milwaukee Catholic Home, Milwaukee, WI. There he would have round the clock supervision and care.

Andrew met Sister Death on September 7, 2022 at the Milwaukee Catholic Home. He was in the 92nd year of his life and the 65th year of his religious profession.

 

May the soul of Andrew and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.
Amen.