Saint of the Day Quote: Blessed Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski

Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski was born January 22, 1913, in Chełmży, Poland, a small town in the northern central part of the country. He was one of six children—three boys, three girls—all of whom grew up around the family bakery and pastry shop run by their father Louis Frelichowski.

All throughout his boyhood and teen years, he participated in Boy Scouts activities and served as an altar boy. Following his high school graduation, he entered the major seminary of the Diocese of Chełmno, based in Pelplin. During seminary he took an active role with the charitable organization Caritas and helped leading scouting activities for the local youth. He continued his involvement with the Boy Scouts even after his ordination.

Ordained on March 4, 1937, he was assigned to be Bishop Stanisław W. Okoniewski’s secretary. Then a little more than a year later, July 1, 1938, the bishop made him vicar of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Toruniu. There he zealously devoted himself to pastoral activity. Afterward people recall he celebrated the Mass with a fervor that surprised many.

It was at the height of his parish ministry that Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Ten days later, on September 11, the Germans arrested him and other area priests and sent them to jail. Although released after a few days, he was again imprisoned on October 18, and this marked the definitive loss of his freedom. No charges were ever brought against him.

At first, the Nazis held him at Fort VII, a 19th century military installation near Toruniu. While imprisoned here, he strove to raise the morale of his fellow prisoners by strengthening their faith. Then there came a very brief stay in the town of Nowym Porcie (New Port), where he worked at cleaning up the devastation of war at Westerplatte peninsula in Gdańsk (this is where the Germans opened the battle to conquer Poland). The Nazis next moved him on January 10, to the concentration camp at Stutthof near Gdańsk, where he was used to work in the local mines. This is the same camp in which Bl. Julia Rodzińska, OP, would later be held and die.

Here, too, he ministered to his fellow prisoners. Somehow he clandestinely procured unconsecrated Communion hosts and some wine and—despite the threat of reprisals, and in very humble conditions—he celebrated the Mass of Holy Thursday in 1940. He also managed to organize times of common prayer, both in the morning and evening, in honor of Our Lady of the Afflicted.

Three weeks later, on April 9, 1940, the Germans transferred him to the Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg camp near Berlin. Here he was quarantined in Block 20, run by a kapo and war Hugo Krey, a war criminal known for his cruelty. One inmate remarked, “But a hundred times worse is the block of priests from across the way, [run by bloody Hugo]. Hugo is a monster in human flesh.” He beat the Servant of God Fr. Roman Kozubek, SVD (d. May 16, 1940) so badly that the bespectacled priest died. Kozubek was transferred from Stutthof to this camp on the same day as Fr. Frelichowski.

Frelichowski—with all the ardor of the young clergyman that he was—continued to discreetly minister to the sick, the elderly, and young people, finding for all words of consolation and hope, trying to strengthen the weakest, and helping all bear with dignity the humiliations and persecutions that the bloody kapo inflicted on them.

Go here to read the rest at CatholicSaintsGuy.  Men like  Blessed Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski are torches sent by God in His mercy to light our path in a dark world.

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2 Comments

  1. What a saint! There probably are so many untold stories that we will never know about of clergy in WWII who kept the faith alive for their fellow Catholics.
    If there were the same situation today there would be priests who would be like Fr. Stefan, but would the hierarchy in Rome and in US sell us down the river or would they be brave? If we look to China and knew all the truth, we’d have the answer.

  2. Catholic priests from occupied countries were treated horribly.
    World War II ended nearly 75 years ago, and it is still possible to learn something new about it every day. What isn’t new is the knowledge of German cruelty during the war.

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