Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Blessed Wladyslaw Findysz—He died “In Odium Fidei”; the first person martyred under Communist rule in Poland

Bl. Wladyslaw Findysz  wikipedia.org

By Larry Peterson

Wladyslaw Findysz was born on December 13, 1907,  in Krosno, which is located in southwestern Poland. His mom and dad, devout Catholics, followed the tradition and had their new baby boy baptized the very next day at their parish church, Holy Trinity.

Wladyslaw was sent to an elementary school run by the Cistercian Sisters (CSSF) in the town of Kroscienko Nizne. After finishing grade school, he went on to a state-run school but his years with the sisters had instilled in him an attraction to the priesthood. In 1927, Wladyslaw entered the seminary in a nearby town called Przemysil. He was very fortunate for the rector of the seminary was Father John Balicki, who would be beatified in 2002. He completed his studies satisfactorily and was ordained a priest June 19, 1932.

Father Findysz was moved around quite a bit in his first ten years as a priest. Finally, in 1941, he was appointed the parochial vicar at the Church of St. Peter and Paul in Nowy Zmigrod.  On October 3, 1944, the Nazis expelled Father Findysz and many others from the city. He lived in exile for a while but did return to his church in January 1945.

He immediately began a rebuilding and reorganizing project.  When the Nazis finally surrendered in May of 1945, the communists took charge. Promoting atheism was one of their primary objectives.  Moreover, they were not only good at doing it they were also quite insistent about people embracing it.

Father  Findysz focused his pastoral work on a moral and religious renewal within his parish. He worked tirelessly at keeping the faith in focus, especially among the young people. He also did his best to help the people of his parish who had lost so much during the war and the Nazi occupation. From food, medicine, clothing, and whatever else he could gather to help those in need, he did.

Greek Catholics from Lemki were especially singled out by the communist party, and these people were often evicted from their homes without cause or reason with no chance of reprieve. The kindly priest did work tirelessly trying to help those people and the priest’s activities quickly made the communists wary of his actions.

By 1946 he was under constant surveillance by the secret police. In 1952 people in charge of academics prohibited him from teaching catechism in the parish secondary school. The authorities went so far as to rescind his permission to live within the border of the school even though it was where his parish was located.

The church authorities viewed Father Findysz as a devout and zealous priest and they honored him as an honorary canon in 1946. In 1957 he was accorded the privilege of wearing the rochet and mantelletta and was also appointed the vice-dean of Nowy Zmigrod where he was elevated to Dean in 1962.

In 1963 Father Findysz, started the “Conciliar Works of Charity.” He sent letters of exhortation to parishioners who were known to have leaned toward a secular lifestyle encouraging them to reorder their Christian lives.  The communists reacted harshly toward Father’s actions. He was accused of trying to make the faithful be part of religious rites and practices.

On November 25, 1963, he was interrogated, arrested, and imprisoned in Rzeszow castle. His trial took place in December. He was accused of violating the “Protection of the Freedom of Conscience and Denomination Act of 1949. He did this by sending newsletters to his parishioners. He was sentenced to two years and six months in Central Prison

Just before his imprisonment Father Wladyslaw had surgery to have his thyroid removed. He entered prison ill, and the authorities knew it. He also developed esophageal cancer and had to remain in the prison hospital where the care was extremely limited and substandard. He was under constant interrogation and surgery was required for his cancer. The authorities postponed the surgery sentencing Father Wladyslaw to a slow and painful death.  He died on August 21, 1964.

O June 19, 2005, Father Wladyslaw Findysz was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. Blessed Wladyslaw was deemed to have died “In Odium Fidei” (In Hatred of the Faith)  He was the first martyr of the Communist Regime in Poland.

Blessed Wladyslaw, please pray for us.

copyright©Larry Peterson 2019

Venerable Henriette Delille–A Catholic Woman of Color on the Road to Sainthood*

Venerable Henriette Delille Aletaia.org

Honoring Black History Month; 2019

By Larry  Peterson

I’m sure most of us have heard of the people known as French Creoles. The Creoles are simply descendants of the settlers of Louisiana who were of French descent. The term also became applied to African descended slaves who were born in Louisiana. One of those descendants was a woman by the name of Henriette Delille.

Henriette was born in 1813 in New Orleans. Her father had been born in France and her mom was a “free woman of color”. Theirs was a common-law marriage which was quite typical at the time in New Orleans. The people practiced the placage, a recognized “legal” system whereby European men, although legally married,  entered into relationships with non-European women of African, Native  American or mixed-race descent. As a Creole, Henriette was a qualified ‘candidate’ for a placage common-law marriage and her mom was resolved to see that it happened. Her daughter was not so determined.

Henriette’s mother, on a quest to see that her daughter became a common-law wife to a wealthy white man, trained Henriette in the fine arts of dance, literature, and music. She made sure that Henriette attended as many “quadroon balls” as possible. There was one problem; Henriette was not interested. Her mind, heart, and soul were pointing in a different direction.

Henriette had developed a deep faith in Catholicism and its teachings. She wanted no part of the life her mother was planning for her. Rather, she became an outspoken adversary of the placage system because it violated the Church’s teachings on the Sacrament of Matrimony. Henriette’s objections to her mom’s wishes began causing serious discord between mother and daughter.

When Henriette was 22 years old, her mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was declared by the courts as “incompetent”. Henriette was granted control of her mom’s assets and immediately made arrangements for her to be provided for. After ensuring her mom would was well taken care of and in good hands, she sold all the other assets. She took the remaining proceeds and founded a small, unrecognized  order of nuns. They called themselves the Sisters of the Presentation. The order consisted of seven young Creole women and a young French woman.

Henriette and her little group began their fledgling ministry by taking in some elderly women who had no place to go or help take care of them. In effect, Henriette Delille had opened America’s first Catholic home for the elderly. To this day this is one of their primary charitable works. (Ironically, during the same year of 1836, a woman named Jeanne Jugan was in France acquiring a small cottage and beginning a new order. She brought a blind, crippled elderly woman into her home and so began the Little Sisters of the Poor. She had two followers with her.)

Henriette Delille had officially devoted her life to God. In 1836 she wrote, “I wish to live and die for God.” She and her group began caring for the sick, helping the poor,  teaching both free and enslaved men, women and children. Henriette became a frequent sponsor for mixed-race babies at Baptisms in nearby St. Louis Cathedral and in St. Augustine Church. She also became very active in St. Claude School,  founded for young women of color.

In 1837 Henriette’s new order received recognition from the Holy See. In 1842 the congregation changed its name to the Sisters of the Holy Family.  Today the Sisters of the Holy Family have over 200 members continuing to serve the poor by operating free schools for children, retirement homes and nursing homes in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, California and Belize.

Henriette Delille died in 1862. She was 49 years old.  On March 27, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI, declared that Henriette Delille had led a life of “heroic virtue” and declared the Creole woman from New Orleans, “Venerable”. When the sisters in her order heard the news they quickly gathered together, headed to their chapel and sang the Te Deum, praising God for the great blessing.

I believe that Venerable Henriette may well become the first African-American woman to be canonized a saint.   (This article appeared in Aleteia on Nov 4, 2016)

Father Augustus Tolton is the first African American  ordained a priest in America. Born a slave, his story is also in Aleteia. He has been declared a “Servant of God” and is on the road to sainthood..

Venerable Henriette Delille, please pray for us.

©Copyright Larry Peterson 2016