VATICAN CITY, MAY 14, 2003 (Zenit.org).- On Sunday, John Paul II will canonize four blesseds in St. Peter’s Square, including Polish Bishop Jozef Sebastian Pelczar, a renowned intellectual and tireless worker for the good of souls.
Bishop Pelczar was born on January 17, 1842 in the little town of Korczyna, near Krosno, Southeast Poland.
He was ordained a priest on July 17, 1864. He studied in Rome at the Roman College, now the Pontifical Gregorian University, and at the St. Apollinaire Institute, presently the Pontifical Lateran University.
Upon returning to his homeland, he worked as a professor at the seminary of Przemysl and later, for 22 years at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University.
As professor and dean of the faculty of theology, he enjoyed a learned reputation, and was regarded as a good organizer and friend of young people. In recognition of his values, he was conferred the title of Rector of Krakow’s “Almae Matris.”
Wishing to fulfill the ideal of “priest and Pole, who works with dedication for his people,” Father Pelczar did not limit his activity to the field of science, but also to social and charitable work. He was an active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Association and of the Popular Education Association, of which he was president for 16 years.
In 1894 he founded the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Krakow, to proclaim the kingdom of love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and become a sign and instrument of that love to young people, the sick, and all those in need of assistance.
Over the 25 years of his episcopal ministry in the diocese of Przemysl, he increased the number of new churches and chapels, restored many churches, and held three diocesan Synods despite the difficult political circumstances.
To address the injustices suffered by workers, Bishop Pelczar dedicated himself resolutely to solving some of the problems of his time, such as emigration and alcoholism. In his writings, he emphasized the need to respect absolutely the social teachings of Pope Leo XIII.
Bishop Pelczar died on the night of March 27, 1924. On June 2, 1991, during his 4th pilgrimage to Poland, John Paul II beatified the bishop at Rzeszow. His remains are in the Cathedral of Przemysl. His Memoria is observed on January 19.
On Sunday, together with Bishop Pelczar, the Holy Father will canonize three other blesseds: Urszula Ledochowska (1865-1939), founder of the congregation of the Heart of Jesus in Agony; Maria de Mattias (1805-1866), virgin, founder of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ; Virginia Centurione Bracelli (1587-1651), lay woman, founder of the Sisters of Our Refuge on Calvary and of the religious Daughters of Our Lady on Calvary.