Father Joachim Alfred (Alf) Dlugaj, died in Townsville on Sunday, September 15, 2002, aged 86 years.
Fr Dlugaj was born in Poland in 1916. He graduated as a a pharmacist from the University of Krakow in 1939. He was imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II and escaped from a concentration camp in Slovenia in 1945, making his way to a refugees camp before going to work in Brussels, Belgium in the pharmacies in the battlefields of Waterloo and, later, in an Italian camp affiliated to a family member of the Polish Corps of Anders. He eventually settled in England and obtained registration to work as a druggist (chemist) for two years at Piccadilly Circus and at Ealing, London.
Fr Dlugaj managed to get a landing permit to Australia in 1948 and lived first in Sydney, working for a Friendly Society Pharmacy. In 1949 he was appointed as manager of the Friendly Societies Dispensary in Ayr, where he remained until 1954 when he was accepted as a student at Banyo Seminary, before being ordained in 1961.
He served as a priest in the parishes of Bowen, Ingham, Mundingburra, Julia Creek and Mount Isa. He retired to Villa McAuley Retirement Home in 1991 but remained actively involved in hospital visitation and parish supply work and maintained a keen interest as chaplain to the Polish community.
A large crowd of mourners gathered at the Sacred Heart Cathedral for Fr Dlugaj’s funeral Mass, at which Bishop Michael Putney presided. Fr Dlugaj was well known and well respected for his sense of humour, piety and dedication to the poor.