Peter (Duclan) Rydza, O.F.M.
“Before me, Albert Rabida, Vice Consul of the United States of America, in and for the district of Bombay, India, duly commissioned and qualified, personally came Peter Rydza, who, being duly sworn deposes and says that his name is Peter Rydza, and that he was born on June 12, 1929 in Wies Kadlubisha, Poland. That he is a Polish national unable to present a valid passport and that he is therefore executing this affidavit to be used in lieu of a passport in connection with his travel to the United States. Sworn before me on 28th day of June 1947. .”
-Taken from an affidavit in lieu of a passport.
He was 18 years old, a displaced Polish youth exiled from his family and home because of the war raging in his homeland. The resilience of this youth is a testimony to his faith in God and an ability to survive the trauma of war. He was born to Ladislaus and Apolonia (née Fryc) on June 12, 1929 in Wies Kadlubisha, Poland and baptized soon after. Schooling happened sporadically as the war unfolded in Poland. The intensity of the war forced the family to flee Poland. As the family fled the harsh treatment of the German Army, the members of the family were separated. Peter found himself on a train for India where he was able to obtain a legal document, enabling him to travel to the United States. It was during his stay in India that he received religious instruction leading to his confirmation in 1943.
It was a group of sixteen boys from Poland who boarded the “Marine Adder,” and set sail on June 23, 1947 and arrived in San Francisco, California on July 9, 1947. The Rev. Francis Pluta, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, was the director of the relief Society for Poles in Bombay, India and in charge of finding homes for war orphans and refugees. The Provincial Council decided to accept some of these young men.
After a five-day bus journey, they reached their destination, Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Two of the sixteen youths eventually joined the Order and persevered, Blasé Karas and Peter Rydza. By November 1948, Peter found himself applying as a displaced person for residency in the United States. During his stay at the High School, Peter helped in the boiler room of the school, a skill that would serve him well throughout his religious life.
He was accepted into the Novitiate of the Assumption BVM Province on August 14, 1953 at Queen of Peace Monastery and Novitiate, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, receiving the name Duclan. It was on November 16, 1953 that his certificate of naturalization arrived. On August 15, 1954, Duclan professed simple vows and professed solemn vows on August 15, 1957 in St. Francis College chapel, Burlington, Wisconsin.
From 1954 through 2017, Peter (returned to his baptismal name) served the community as the brother who kept the boilers running smoothly. From St. Joseph Friary, Sturtevant, Wisconsin to ABVM Friary, Pulaski, Wisconsin, he served with a quiet dedication and a simple smile. From 1972 and his arrival in Pulaski, Peter took on the care of the Provincial Cemetery. He took great pride in the appearance of the cemetery. Peter was also a regular visitor to Villa Alvernia, McAllister, Wisconsin. There he found delight in fishing the Menominee River and was an avid hunter in late fall.
In 2017, because of failing health, Peter agreed to be transferred to Queen of Peace Friary, Burlington, WI where he would receive the care he needed. After a cardiac event, Peter found himself for the first time in a hospital. Bro. Craig Wilking, guardian of Queen of Peace Friary, would visit regularly and simply hold Peter’s hand and reassure him of the care and concern of the brothers at the friary.
It was in the early hours of Saturday morning, July 16, 2022 that Peter was called home and fell asleep in the Lord. He died in the 93rd year of his life and the 65th year of his Solemn Profession.
May the soul of Peter Rydza and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.