Father Bronislaus “Bruno” F. Swiatocha, former pastor of Our Lady of Poland, Southampton, died September 5, 2020. He was 93 years old and had been a priest for 64 years.
The son of Polish immigrants, Father Swiatocha grew up on a potato farm in Cutchogue where he said he first heard the call to a priestly vocation. In a 2006 interview with The Long Island Catholic newspaper, he recalled his mother teaching him the catechism when he was five years old.
“I was attracted by what was going on at the altar,” he said. “I think I became an altar boy at five (at Our Lady of Ostrabrama Parish, Cutchogue) and stayed on for 13 years. That must be a record.”
Following his graduation from Southold High School in 1945 Father Swiatocha was drafted into the U.S. Army. He transferred to the Navy and eventually the Marine Corps, serving stateside in North Carolina, Virginia and Washington before being released from service after World War II ended.
He then attended the Manhattan Institute of Technology, studying architecture and engineering for two years. He was still interested in pursuing a vocation to the priesthood, but the Brooklyn diocesan seminary was full at the time. (Long Island was part of the Brooklyn Diocese until 1957.)
Father Swiatocha was familiar with the Priests of the Congregation of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception who assisted at his parish on weekends. He was accepted into their formation program, attending the Catholic University of America and the order’s Mount Carmel Seminary in Washington, DC. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 6, 1956.
He as first assigned as the congregations’s vocations director and later led the order’s minor seminary in Washington, directed the motherhouse in Stockbridge, Mass., and was the rector at the House of Studies in Washington. He also served for a year at the native missions in North Carolina.
When his mother become ill in 1972, he decided to come back to Long Island to be closer to family and served at his home parish, Our Lady of Ostrabrama, before being transferred to St. Frances Cabrini, Coram, where he served from 1973 to 1979.
In 1976, Father Swiatocha was formally incardinated into the Diocese of Rockville Center.
After St. Frances, he served for a short time at St. Ladislaus, Hempstead; then St Raphael, East Meadow from 1980 to 1986.
He was named pastor of Our Lady of Poland in 1986. Father Swiatocha told The Long Island Catholic he enjoyed being pastor there. “I was familiar with the area, having grown up on the North Fork, and I came from a strong Polish background,” which was useful as most of the parishioners were Polish immigrants or of Polish descent.
During his tenure, Our Lady of Poland worked with the parishes of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Southampton, and St. Rosalie, Hampton Bays, to form a regional school, Our Lady of the Hamptons, in the former Our Lady of Poland School building.
When he retired in 1994, Father Swiatocha moved to Shalotte, N.C. where he assisted in the parishes of Our Lady Star of the Sea and St. Brendan the Navigator. He served as chaplain for the Knights of Columbus Our Lady of the Rosary Council 9039 there.
Funeral arrangements for Father Bruno Swiatocha are as follows:
Wake: Saturday, September 12, 9:30 – 11 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Ostrabrama, 3300 Depot Lane, Cutchogue, NY 11935
Funeral: Saturday, September 12, 11 a.m.
Church of Our Lady of Ostrabrama
Interment will be in the family plot at Sacred Heart R.C. Cemetery in Cutchogue.