Unification News for March 2002

Remembering Tom Wojcik

by Lynn Musgrave Criner

On September 28, 2001, our brother, Tom Wojcik ascended into the spirit world. The Seung Hwa Ceremony was held Oct. 2 at Fort Lincoln Funeral Home in Brentwood, Maryland.

Tom Wojcik led an exciting life fraught with peril and full of adventure. His exploits began when he joined the army in the 1960s to fight in Vietnam. They continued after he joined our church in 1973. After plenty of fundraising, witnessing, and lecturing for CARP, and stints as a state and regional leader, Tom, together with his wife Kitty, became a missionary first to Zaire in 1990.

With other church members, one day Tom went to look at the Congo. Suddenly, a group of military men with machine guns surrounded them. Looking at the river was not free, they argued, and the missionaries would have to pay up. Luckily one member was able to handle the situation or else they would all have been robbed or worse.

From Zaire, Tom and Kitty went to Russia in 1991. Tom set off for Moscow ahead of his family. Kitty and four of their six children: Tath, Misun, Gil, and Sonny, followed him soon afterward. Kitty said later that she and the children couldnít get the plane they were supposed to take and spent the night unexpectedly in Helsinki, Finland, with no money and no way to get in touch with Tom. The next day, however, she managed to get a flight to Moscow. As the family finally reached the gate in the Moscow airport, Kitty found Tom standing there waiting. Perhaps this fortuitous moment was the result of good conditions somewhere in the cosmos, but Kitty thought it was because Tom was intuitive -- a quality that stood him in good stead on numerous occasions.

Working in Moscow is not an easy mission for a family. For example, food is often not in the stores. Regardless of how much money you have, you canít purchase food unless you can find it. Everyone must hunt for food, and this was a mission Tom undertook with zeal. One of his friends in Moscow recalls a morning when both of them found a few items for breakfast -- one had eggs and coffee; the other, bacon and bread. Well, the obvious solution was for their two families to eat together that morning.

The Wojcikís fifth child, Tommy, was born in Moscow. When his baby teeth came in, there were only a few of them. Tom said that every child in Tommyís kindergarten, like Tommy, resembled a haggle-toothed old man. Whatever the causes of the missing baby teeth, it turned out that the neighborhood where the Wojciks were living had secretly been used as a nuclear waste dump. Their whole family was somewhat affected, but none so much as their smallest child.

The Wojciks liked being in Moscow, however. Tom lectured and gave Sunday services (usually by reading True Fatherís words). Kitty said that he tried to teach the members in Moscow to be self-reliant. Tom was a talented artist and musician. He played the guitar, trumpet, and piano, and wrote songs. During his time in the Soviet Union, he brought laughter to members by performing as Zippo the Clown. He made American-style popcorn and served it himself to the members when they came to his home.

The Wojcikís finally came back to the United States from Moscow to take care of sick relatives. Their last child, Natalia, was born here. Kitty said that she nearly died then and was amazed to find Tom by her bedside when she had thought he was traveling for the church. Once again, Tomís intuition stood him in good stead.

Soon afterward, in 1997, Tom and Kitty were chosen to become the American national messiahs to Pakistan. Tom set off on his first visit. This time, he careened around Pakistanís back roads, nearly falling off cliffs, as he undertook to meet with various Pakistani officials. As the days went by, he felt stranger and stranger. He said that as he traveled, his hosts would feed him, and he would feel more and more and more bloated. Finally, his liver nearly failed.

It turned out that Tom had hepatitis C. Over time, it causes the liver to harden until blood can no longer flow through it. Eventually, so much blood backs up that it begins to rupture blood vessels. Tomís life was in danger. He went to the hospital only to discover that he could not get the help he needed and had to return to the United States. Sick and reeling, he went to the airport only to be stopped on a technicality. Luckily, he had the presence of mind to drop the names of some important Pakistani officials who had received him, and finally he was in the air and on his way home.

When Tom got back to the United States, he was placed on a list to receive a liver transplant. As the weeks went by, however, it became clear that no liver was available. Although the doctors were able to keep him alive by thinning his blood and lowering his blood pressure, Tom was gray with illness and could barely see. Then, it turned out that his wife, Kitty, was a perfect match; she could give him half of her liver, and she did in the fall of 1998.

The operation was quite new at the time. Tom was the third person in the USA to receive a liver transplant from a living donor. The Wojciksí operation was extensively covered in the media, including the "Los Angeles Times, " "The Washington Post," PBS television and even international media. The Wojciks were interviewed by the Korean Discovery Television Channel, which agreed that, indeed, they were "matched by God."

Tom hoped for recovery, but despite ups and downs, it eventually became clear that he was so allergic to the various anti-rejection drugs, and had other complications, and might remain in peril. Eventually, on September 11, 2001, Tom slipped into a coma. He ascended into the spiritual world on September 28, succumbing to a combination of pneumonia and liver and kidney damage due to pancreatitis.

Tomís Seung Hwa was held in Washington, DC, in an old historic cemetery that had been a battlefield in both the War of 1812 and the Civil War. An overflow crowd sent him off after lots of good testimonies. Tomís second daughter, Misun, sang a sweet love song. Many beautiful and tearful testimonies were given by Howard Self, Cheryl Wetzstein, Steven Stanecki Kozlowski, Kevin McCarthy, and Kitty Wojcik. The emcee was William Selig.

During Tomís illness, so many people in our church, and in other churches as well, helped the Wojciks to survive. Their generosity so moved and uplifted Tom and Kitty. One of Tomís last acts was to pen, together with Kitty, a letter of thanks to all who made it possible for the family to make it. In that letter he said, "In eternity, the Wojcik family bears witness to that portion of your life and love which we received and forever remember."

Tom was raised a Catholic in Chicago, and he was religious all of his life except for a brief period in Vietnam when he was convinced by his buddies that religion was meaningless. Shortly thereafter, when he became aware of his folly -- and especially after he met True Parents -- he became deeply religious again. He was grateful to serve True Parents and didnít mind the risks he took.

It is likely that Tom is presently serving together with Tiger Park, the Korean National Messiah to Pakistan who ascended a number of years ago. Kitty feels that Tom is always present in her family and mission life. All prayers for their mission are welcome.

Tom and Kitty have six children: Tath (17), Misun (16), Gil Won (13), Sonny (10), Tommy (8),and Natalia (5). Another child was conceived by them and offered to their dear friends who had been trying to conceive a child for years but couldnít.

Lynn Musgrave Criner is a free lance writer and editor and a friend of Tom and Kitty Wojcik.

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