Feast of Blesseds Josef Stepniak and Josef Straszewski (August 12)   3 comments

Above:  Dachau

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED JÓZEF STEPNIAK (JANUARY 3, 1912-AUGUST 12, 1942)

BLESSED JÓZEF STRASZEWSKI (JANUARY 18, 1885-AUGUST 12, 1942)

Polish Roman Catholic Priest and Martyrs, 1942

Alternative feast day (as some of the 108 Martyrs of World War II) = June 12

The twentieth century, I have heard, was the century of martyrs.  Certainly World War II was a time of the martyrdom of only God knows how many people.  The Roman Catholic Church has recognized hundreds of martyrs of that time as being Venerable, Blessed, or canonized.  Many of those were Polish priests.

Blessed Józef Straszewski was a faithful priest.  He, born in Wloclawek, Russia (now Poland), on January 18, 1885, studied in his hometown from primary school to seminary.  His priestly ordination occurred there on June 18, 1911.  He served a series of parishes faithfully, and was, for a time, prefect of a State School of Commerce, prior to becoming the pastor of the new St. Stanislaw parish, Wloclawek.  Our saint supervised the construction of the buildings, organized retreats, and led a movie series.  Straszewski was a well-read-man, especially in theology.

Blessed Józef Stepniak, born in Zdzary on January 3, 1912, began life as a citizen of one country and died as a Polish citizen.  (Poland was not a country between 1795 and 1918.)  He, son of Paul Stepniak and Anna Misztal, grew up in a pious farm family.  He studied at St. Fidelis College, Lomza, Poland, working hard and earning mediocre grades.  He became a Capuchin novice (as Florian) at Nowe Miasto, Poland, on August 14, 1931.  Stepniak, who made his profession on August 15, 1935, became a priest on June 24, 1938.  Next our saint began studies at the Catholic University of Lublin.

The invasion and partition of Poland in 1939 disrupted the Roman Catholic Church there.  The Gestapo targeted priests, arresting many of them and simply martyring others.  Stepniak chose ministry to his fellow Christians above his safety.  Agents of the Gestapo arrested him on January 25, 1940.  Straszewski and other priests in the Diocese of Wloclawek became prisoners of the Third Reich on November 7, 1939.

Both saints became prisoners at Dachau.  They were faithful to the end.  Straszewski, for example, found in the Passion of Jesus the source of strength he needed.  Stepniak and Straszewski, gassed on August 12, 1942, became martyrs.  Pope John Paul II declared them Venerables then Blesseds in 1999.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERKELEY, IRISH ANGLICAN BISHOP AND PHILOSOPHER; AND JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS COUSIN, JOHN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, U.S. QUAKER THEOLOGIAN AND COFOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Blessed Józef Stepniak and Blessed Józef Straszewski

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them the crow of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 714

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3 responses to “Feast of Blesseds Josef Stepniak and Josef Straszewski (August 12)

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  1. As you know, the Nazis killed fourteen million people during the war. Many of whom were faithful Christians who stood up for the Jews and refused to go along with the Nazi regime.

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