Pope Francis appointed Polish Salvatorian Father Karol Kulczycki as Bishop of Port Pirie in South Australia.

The bishop-elect is currently based in Poland, but previously spent 21 years as a missionary priest in Western Australia. He returned to Poland in 2018 after being elected vice-provincial of the Polish province of the Society of the Divine Savior.

“God is working in mysterious ways in my life. Firstly, calling me unexpectedly to religious and priestly life; secondly, directing my heart to serve Him in Australia and now serving Him and His people in Port Pirie Diocese,” Kulczycki said in a statement.

“Building my relationship with God, I have never envisioned myself as a bishop. To be one is a great privilege and responsibility. From the human perspective, it is a very challenging life. Maybe for these reasons I have not desired that ministry,” the bishop-elect added.

He said the prayer and example of the Blessed Virgin Mary responding “Yes” to God’s call to be the Mother of Jesus “gave me strength to accept the call to become the Bishop of Port Pirie Diocese. I have placed my trust in God and pray that I may fulfil the call which He has given me.”

Kulczycki was born in Poland in 1966 and ordained to the priesthood in Trzebinia in 1994. The Diocese of Port Pirie Diocese is one of Australia’s largest dioceses, being three times larger than Poland by area.

“Serving in different ministries and places in Western Australia gave me a bit of understanding of the beauty and vastness of the Australian land. I love the Australian Outback. Of course, it will take a bit of time for me to know the land, people, parishes, schools and other ministries,” the bishop-elect said.

Bishop Greg O’Kelly, the retiring Bishop of Port Pirie, said the people and clergy of the diocese “are loyal and committed, and all look forward to receiving bishop-elect Karol as our new Chief Pastor.”

“I thank God for the graces and happiness God has accorded me in my own time as bishop of this outstanding diocese,” he said in a statement. O’Kelly turns 79 on Aug. 10, four years over the official retirement age of bishops.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference President Archbishop Mark Coleridge said Kulczycki “clearly bring to the task all the gifts and experiences that have led to this appointment.”

“The bishops look forward to getting to know Bishop-Elect Karol and working with him at this time with all its complexities and challenges, especially in a vast rural diocese like Port Pirie,” Coleridge said.

Kulczycki is currently still in Poland. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it is not known when he will be able to return to Australia.