UP << Biography
BLESSED FATHER MICHAEL SOPOCKO
Biography - Part IIII
PROFESSOR OF THE ARCHDIOCESAN SEMINARY IN BIALYSTOK
In October 1947 classes began in the seminary in
Bialystok. Fr. Sopocko taught the same subjects that he had taught
in Vilnius (Lithuania). Namely, Catechesis, Pedagogy, Psychology,
and the History of Philosophy. The activities and presence of Fr.
Michael in the seminary were not limited
to teaching. He was confessor of the seminarians, as he had been in
Vilnius and many times
when asked by the spiritual director he led retreats for them. Alongside
his duties in the seminary, he also carried out pastoral, social and
educational work. While an important part of his activities was his
educational program promoting abstinence from alcohol amongst the
The work he was most involved in however, and which
was the dearest to him, was the matter
of the devotion to the Divine Mercy, to which he himself was ardently
devoted and faithful till
the very end. He did not become discouraged by the opposition of Church
authorities in approving the devotion. An opposition caused firstly
by inconsistencies arising through the spontaneous, grass-roots response
in the spreading of the devotion and secondly due to inaccuracies
in some publications. Fr. Sopocko tirelessly corrected the errors
and ideas that did not accuratly represent the true concept of Divine
Mercy, explaining the theological bases of the devotion.
Similiarly as in Vilnius, so too in Bialystok,
Fr. Sopocko was the confessor of religious sisters. Amongst others,
the sisters from the Congregation of Missionaries of the Holy Family,
who had a house on Poleska Street. Whilst there, engaged in spiritual
ministry on PoleskaStreet, Fr. Sopocko took the opportunity for spreading
the Divine Mercy devotion among the local people.
In addition, thanks to his efforts, a chapel under the patronage of
the Holy Family was consecrated in the religious house on 27 November
1957, on the Solemnity of Christ the King. And in this way,
a pastoral center was created for the local residents.
After retirement, Fr. Sopocko lived in that
same building taking part in pastoral ministry till
the end of his life. (Presently a room containing his personal effects
can be found there as well as
a religious house of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus, the Congregation
he founded.) (see Sopocko).
Towards the end of the nineteen fifties,
Fr. Sopocko took on one more initiative, that of building
a church in Bialystok. A plot of land was purchased with a house on
it, half the cost of which
he covered himself with his savings. Through this church project,
Fr. Sopocko was once again enacting plans drawn up much earlier in
Vilnius to build a church under the patronage
of the Divine Mercy. However, this time also, as before, he was forced
to resign himself
to the failure of the project.
In 1958, while giving a retreat to priests, Fr.
Sopocko suffered damage to a facial nerve.
From this time on, speaking aloud to large audiences was very difficult
for him and cost him
a great deal. In addition to this, in February 1962 he was involved
in a car accident in Zakopane (Poland) while taking part in a meeting
of theology professors. This also had an adverse effect
on his health and in this state it became necessary for him to go
TOWARDS THE END OF HIS LIFE
The sudden retirement caught Fr. Sopocko
off guard. He had always been active and involved
in numerous works and duties, and for the first time (excluding his time
in hiding in Czarny Bór)
he had unlimited time at his disposal.
Priestly Service in the Chapel
on Poleska Street in Bialystok, Poland
While fulfilling his priestly duties in
the Chapel on Poleska Street, he took up the work of finishing the treatises
on concept of Mercy that he had begun earlier. When the atmosphere surrounding
the revelations of Divine Mercy began to change for the better, he devoted
himself to it with renewed fervor. The priestly character of Fr. Sopocko,
his spiritual formation and authority stemming from his remarkable life
experiences, as well as his great modesty, all served to draw the faithful
to him. Having more time now, Fr. Sopocko took up research to broaden
of Divine Mercy further.
Apart from some new ideas on the matter, he had collected a large amount
of material, while some studies he had already begun, so diligently he
launched himself into writing. Several works were completed, one after
the other, with a four-volume work, "The Mercy of God in His Works," taking
the lead (see Excerpts).
The first volume was published in London already in 1959, and the next
three volumes were published in the 1960's in Paris, due to the generosity
of people devoted to the Divine Mercy who were living in the West. This
work was also translated into English.
The constant development of the devotion
to the Divine Mercy and the interest arising from
many theologians were important occurrences that boosted Fr. Sopocko's
Another significant incentive encouraging him to mission work for the
cause of the Divine Mercy was the opening of the Informative Process relating
to sister Faustina Kowalska by Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow in 1965.
Fr. Sopocko was involved in this process and testified as
Father Michael Sopocko lived to celebrate
the beautiful jubilees of 50 and 60 years of priestly service. The most
edifying part of these celebrations was the speeches of the jubilee celebrant
himself. Nearing the end of his priestly life, worn out by age and the
difficulties of life, as well as
by the painful inner trials he suffered, Fr. Sopocko made the shortest
of the speeches given on that day. He expressed, first of all, his deep
gratitude to God for the gift of the priesthood, and then, with great
humility, he stated that in his long priestly life, he was not always
faithful to the duties entrusted to him, and for that he desired to sincerely
apologize to God and to ask all those gathered for prayer that the Merciful
God would forgive him his unfaithfulness.
This celebration, according to the feelings
and judgments of many participants, was a much belated moral reward and
recompense for the venerable priest who had merited so much
for the cause of God, especially for having spread the idea of Divine
The one sign of recognition for the manifold meritorious works he accomplished
for the Church
and the Archdiocese was his being named honorary Canon of the Chapter
of the Metropolitan Basilica, though this was not until 1972, already
near the end of his life.
Throughout his whole life, Fr. Michael
was a man of action. Action based on a strong spiritual foundation. When
his physical ability deteriorated due to illnesses, and ailments struck,
the spiritual domain became the place of his commitment to God and to
Some quotations found in his diary give testimony to this. For this is
how he actually understood
his final service:
"Old age should be treated as a
vocation to greater love of God and neighbor.
God has new plans regarding the elderly,
plans for deepening the human being by revealing to him, face to face,
his inner life.
The only effective action that we are capable of is prayer.
In this active passivity everything prepares us, everything counts,
everything works for our gain. Heaven will be the praying
of the "OUR FATHER."
He died in his room on Poleska Street
on 15 February 1975. It was a Saturday evening,
the Commemoration of St. Faustin, the patron saint of Sister Faustina
Father Michael Sopocko's funeral
in the cemetery of Bialystok (Poland).
The Shrine of Divine Mercy, 1 Radzyminska
Street, Bialystok (Poland).
The final resting place of Father Michael Sopocko's remains.
In the DIARY of St. Faustina, the promise of the Lord
Jesus is written regarding her spiritual director, Father Michael Sopocko:
"There will be as many crowns to form his
crown, as there
will be souls saved by this work. It is not for the success of a work,
but for the suffering that
I give reward" (Diary, 90).
The beatification process of Father
Michael Sopocko was completed at the Diocesan level
on 29 September 1993. On 20 December 2004 the Congregation for the Causes
of the Saints
in Rome issued a decree confirming the heroic virtue of the Servant
of God Fr. Sopocko.
28 September 2008 in the Divine Mercy Church in Bialystok (Polonia)
took place the beatification
of the Servant of God Fr. Michael Sopocko.
>> The beatification of Father Michael Sopocko
Biography part I
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© The Congregation of Sisters of Merciful