Letters from Tanzania

Rissa Johnson

Rissa Johnson at the Celebration of SFU Authors 2013

Father Zenon Zgudziak spent 18 years working as a Salvatorian Missionary in Tanzania, before a two-year stint in Warsaw, and 20 years as a priest in Burnaby. He retired to Poland in 2009 years ago.

During his time in Africa, he wrote a series of letters in his native Polish to his sisters in Poland. After his retirement to Poland, he published those letters as a book.

The book is divided into three voices - Father Zenon's; his sister Jadwiga (who shared eight of his eighteen years in Africa with him); and Sister Ewangelista (a nun who worked with them).


Father Zenon's former parishioners in Burnaby, BC heard about the book, and created a demand for an English translation. Father Zenon had an English translation prepared by his Polish publisher, but wasn't happy with the results. He then took it upon himself to painstakingly translate his own letters into English, relying on the knowledge of the English language he had gleaned from 20 years in Canada.

Dr. Graham Darling, former Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council #5423 (Catholic fraternity), acquired assistance from Rissa Johnson with editing Father Zenon's English translation. Up until this point, the book had only been seen by native Polish speakers; it now required a native English speaker to do a final edit for Polish-isms and grammatical quirks and errors.


Father Zeon

From Father Zeon (transcribed by a fellow knight from a phone conversation, and slightly edited for clarity of content)

Dear Ms. Rissa Johnson,

In a phone conversation today with Fr. Zenon Zgudziak in Poland, author of the Polish and now also English version of his book, I have been instructed - and gladly join in his sentiments - to convey to you his sincere appreciation of your professionalism in your pro bono efforts to proof-read the entire 326 pages in full detail and improve the text to [conform with the] British/Canadian vocabulary where advised.

Fr. Zeno, for whom English is not a native language, was very pleased with the results.

Speaking for myself, please accept a sincere Thank you! for thus enabling us to go to print here in Coquitlam on schedule as planned.

Wishing you much success in your work, I am, with best personal regards,

Paul Pazdera, Project leader

Holy Cross Council 5423 Knights of Columbus