An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

From Poland to the Freedom Wing: Chaplain Finds His Home

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Monica Ricci

Chaplain (Capt.) Michal Falgowski feels right at home serving in the 514th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

The Catholic priest decided to leave his home country and come to the United States in 2009 to fill a need, even though he didn’t speak any English.

“There was a huge need for Catholic priests in the United States, so I decided to take the risk,” he said. “I never learned the English language, so that was never my goal. My second language was always German.”

Despite the challenges of navigating a new country and learning a new language, Falgowski earned his ordination into the priesthood in 2013. Soon after, he met an Air Force chaplain who inspired him to join the service. Joining the military presented its own set of challenges, since he didn’t have his green card at the time he tried to join.

“Finally, someone opened the door for me,” the chaplain said. “My friends at home never expected it. I was trying to avoid the military draft in Poland because it was never my thing. So the fear ended up becoming the biggest excitement of my life.”

Joining the Air Force expedited his path to citizenship.

“Becoming a citizen was the biggest accomplishment I could make,” he said. “When I joined the Air Force and raised my right hand, I said I would support and defend the Constitution. Now I can say ‘It’s my Constitution. It’s my country as well.’”

Falgowski initially served as a Reserve chaplain at the 914th Air Refueling Wing, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, New York, while fulfilling his duties as a priest at Saint Virgil Catholic Church in Morris Plains, New Jersey. While serving at Niagara, he completed a tour of duty with the 621st Contingency Response Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. When the opportunity to transfer to the Freedom Wing arose, he jumped at the chance.

The chaplain offered these words of encouragement for anyone going through a tough time: “Look out the window. Even if you don’t see the sun out right now doesn’t mean it’s not shining. Sometimes there are clouds up there. We just have to be patient and persistent. Just keep moving forward and don’t give up.”

(Ricci is assigned to the 514th Air Mobility wing public affairs office.)