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Father Kłopotowski was proclaimed blessed on 19 June 2005. He lived in years 1866- 1931 and grew up in a religious and patriotic atmosphere. He loved the priesthood and sought to preach Christ fervently in pastoral ministry. His love for Christ was seen in the care for the poorest and through the apostolate of the printed word. In 1920 he founded the Congregation of the Loretto Sisters. He was a great devotee of the Eucharist and Mother of God.

Father Ignacy was born on 20 July 1866 in Korzeniówka (in the parish of Drohiczyn). He attended secondary school in Siedlce.

In 1883 he entered the Seminary in Lublin. Later, he was sent for further studies to the Roman Catholic Theological Academy in Saint Petersburg where he graduated with a master’s degree in theology. On 5 July 1891 he was ordained a priest by Bishop Franciszek Jaczewski in the Lublin Cathedral.

MINISTRY IN LUBLIN

After his ordination, he took up his duties as vicar at the parish of the Conversion of St. Paul in Lublin. In 1892 he was appointed chaplain of the St. Vincent a Paulo hospital and professor at the Seminary where he taught Scripture, Catechetics, Moral theology and Canon law for 14 years. Then he worked at the cathedral vicariate (1892-1894). He was also rector of the Dominican church of St. Stanislaus the Bishop and Martyr.

Daily pastoral work brought the young priest into contact with moral and material poverty, unemployment, orphanhood, obscurity and backwardness. At that time, a large part of society was living in poverty under the Russian partition. Driven by a deep sensitivity to the needs of people and a special feeling of gratitude to God for the gift of the priesthood, he founded a number of charitable institutions at that time: Lublin Workers’ Hostel, a craftsmen’s school, St Anthony’s Shelter for morally bankrupt women, orphanages in and around Lublin, old people’s homes in Sierakowszczyzna and Wiktoryna. As rector of St. Stanislaus Church he provided assistance to Unitarians. He also initiated the establishment of a network of village schools in the estates of Jan and Maria Kleniewski (with the help of the non-habitual Congregation of Servants of the Immaculate from Mariówka). For these activities he was repressed by the Russian authorities. However, he did not remain passive in the face of human poverty. He tried to raise funds and encouraged the generosity of the rich. When necessary, he personally collected money with a trolley on the streets of Lublin. Over time, he handed over the institutions he established to religious congregations which he greatly appreciated for their commitment to charity.

Fr. Ignacy in his early years of priesthood published prayer books and pamphlets with religious content. He was driven by a desire to provide spiritual, religious and cultural assistance to everyone. After the tolerance decree of Tsar Nicholas II of 1905, he began to publish the daily “Polak-Katolik”, the weekly “Posiew” and the monthly magazine “Dobra Służąca”. Through this publications he wanted to raise the knowledge of the basic truths of faith and the principles of Christian morality among the most neglected. He also wanted to strengthen the religious and patriotic spirit among the poorest layers of the society. The watchword of his periodicals was the phrase taken from the writings of Piotr Skarga: “With God and the Nation”.

Fr. Kłopotowski was aware that the pastoral impact of priests had always been limited. At the same time, he recognised the power of the influence of the printed word. He repeated after the Bishop of Mainz, W. Kettler that “if St Paul were alive today, he would be a journalist”. His journalistic and publishing activities were an extension of the mass parish retreats and missionary movement of the time.

PASTORAL WORK IN WARSAW

In order to develop his publishing activities on a wider scale, he moved to Warsaw in 1908. In addition to the periodicals initiated in Lublin, he began publishing the monthly “Kółko Różańcowe” (The Rosary Circle) and the children’s magazine “Anioł Stróż” (The Guardian Angel). After Poland regained its independence, he resumed and edited the Catholic Review and towards the end of his life he took the initiative to publish the monthly “Głos Kapłański” (The Priestly voice). He continued to publish and distribute thousands of pamphlets and prayer books. Despite problems with censorship, financial difficulties and criticism from the liberal press, he remained faithful to this form of apostolate. In a period of economic crisis, he was sustained by encouragement of the Apostolic Nuncio, Achilles Ratti. Cardinal Aleksander Kakowski also warmly supported Fr. Kłopotowski’s publishing work and entrusted him with various responsibilities. By that time Fr. Kłopotowski was a Rector of St. Florian’s Church in Praga, Dean of Praga, grace canon of the Warsaw Chapter.

To ensure the continuity of the apostolic action of the printed word, he founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Loretto. In 1928 he founded Loretto – a centre for poor children and elderly women (today there is a magnificent shrine to Our Lady of Loretto).

After moving to Warsaw, he did not stop his activities for the abandoned and the poor. He supported the Society of St. Vincent a Paulo and collaborated with the Sisters of Charity. He organised free kitchens, colonies for poor children and care for old women. From the beginning he included the Sisters of Loretto in these actions. It was thanks to his efforts that after the First World War some of the charitable institutions in district of Praga were taken over by the Albertine Sisters and the Albertine Brothers. According to the accounts of those who knew him, Fr. Kłopotowski was “a true father, a protector of orphans”.

BIRTH FOR HEAVEN

He died in Warsaw on 7 September 1931, at the eve of the feast of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary whom he revered and loved. He celebrated the last Mass on the day of his death at Mary’s altar in St. Florian’s Church. The funeral took place on 10 September and brought together numerous crowds of the faithful who loved him. They expressed this by a prayer vigil at his coffin. Fr. Kłopotowski was buried in Warsaw, in the catacombs of the cemetery in Powązki. Through the efforts of the Loretto sisters, on the first anniversary of his death, the body was transferred and placed reverently in a prepared tomb in the cemetery in Loretto. Subsequently, an exhumation was carried in 2000 and the well-preserved remains were placed in the Shrine of Our Lady of Loretto.

The beatification process began in 1988. The ceremony took place in Warsaw on 19 June 2005 during the National Eucharistic Congress.

For a detailed description of Blessed Father Ignacy Kłopotowski’s ministry during his time in Lublin and Warsaw, see Calendar of the Life of Father Ignacy Kłopotowski.

 

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