Mathew Gocki
Rozalia
Monsignor Anthony Gocki
(1900-1987)

 

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Monsignor Anthony Gocki

  • Born: 1900
  • Died: 4 Jun 1987 at age 87
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'Baseball priest' dies
Leader Post June 5, 1987 (clipping from Kay Goski)
Saskatchewan's "baseball priest" is dead at the age of 87.
Monsignor Anthony Gocki, founder of Regina's Polish Roman Catholic parish and Camp
Monahan for young people, tireless immigration worker and Order of Canada recipient, died
Thursday morning after a brief time in hospital.
A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Holy Rosary Cathedral, 13th Avenue
and Garnet Street. Prayers will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Anthony's Roman Catholic
Church, 2275 Atkinson St., the parish where Gocki served 43 years as priest.
"Msgr. Gocki was a giant as priests go," Archbishop C.A. Halpin, who will preside at the
funeral, said in a news release.
"A man of conviction, drive and enthusiasm, he inspired many within the church and in the
community at large."
In a 1982 interview, Gocki summarized his own philosophy of priesthood.
"I believe you should stay with the people, pray with the people and play with the people."
Gocki told the Leader Post.
The two sides of souvenir card from his Investiture
from John & Kay Goski
30
The monsignor, who would have celebrated 65 years as a priest on June 18, lived by his
words.
Gocki was born in North Dakota, but moved to Cedoux, about 80 kilometres southeast of
Regina, as an infant. After taking classics and philosophy in Michigan, he studied theology in
Montreal and was ordained as a priest in 1922.
Still only 22 years old, Gocki launched his career as assistant priest at St. Joseph's Roman
Catholic Church in Moose Jaw, a move which eventually earned him the nickname "baseball
priest."
"Do you play baseball?" he was asked by the priest who interviewed him. When Gocki
answered yes, the priest said, "Then you're just the man I wanted!"
The monsignor went on to organize sports activities for Moose Jaw separate schools as well
as the church. His love of sports and young people grew to become one of his chief interests.
"They called me the baseball priest because they couldn't pronounce my name," Gocki
(pronounced Gos-key) said.
From Moose Jaw, Gocki went to Candiac in 1923, where he was priest for seven years. By
1931 he had moved to Regina and, together with 127 families, was in the midst of constructing
a church for the city's first Polish-speaking Roman Catholic congregation, St. Anthony's.
"We didn't pay five cents on labor outside of the plumber and electrician," Gocki said in
1974, the year he retired from St. Anthony's.
"There's not a single shingle on the rectory roof that I didn't nail myself."
Gocki organized the first Roman Catholic Boy Scout troop in Regina. It was a scout camping
trip in 1945 that took him to a piece of pasture land in the Qu'Appelle Valley where he later
founded Camp Monahan. The 406-acre youth camp, located about 20 kilometres north of
Indian Head, was named after Archbishop Monahan, who donated money to purchase the land.
Gocki headed the Catholic Youth Organization for five years and served as an adviser on
physical fitness and recreation to premiers T. C. Douglas, Woodrow Lloyd and Allan Blakeney.
He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1974.
Fluent in Polish and other Slavic languages, Gocki looked after immigrants for the Catholic
Immigration Aid Society in the late 1920's and again after the Second World War. He spoke
Czechoslovakian, Ukrainian, Russian, Serbian and French, as well as Polish.
Many longtime St. Anthony's members first met Gocki when he welcomed them to Canada
as immigrants. He would help them find work and housing, and figure out complicated
immigration regulations and forms when they wanted to bring other family members to
Canada, said Regina resident Rita Leioda, one of many people assisted by the priest.
"There were many who would never have made it here without him," Leoida said. "He was
the best man I have ever met in my life."
Although retired, Gocki continued to "pinch hit" for other priests, as he like to call it, until a
year before his death.
Gocki is predeceased by his parents, two sisters, Agnes Kot and Annie Marie Hanson, three
brothers, J. D. Goski, Vincent and Philip. He is survived by nine sisters, Marie Gocki, Rose
Kotowich, Rita Malach, Helen Welta, and Wandy (Elmer) Hart, all of Regina; Mary Hanson
and Sophie (Clarence) Leas, both of Fillmore, Ruth (Que) Mann of Duncan, B.C. and Florence
Chowaniec of Salmon Arm, B.C.; one brother Rudy (Theresa) Chowaniec of Edmonton, and
numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.


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