OF FATHER MICHAEL SOPOCKO
On 28th September 2008 in the Sanctuary of Divine
Mercy in Bialystok, Poland, the beatification
of Father Michael Sopocko took place. Father Sopocko was the confessor
and spiritual director
of Saint Sister Faustina Kowalska, founder of the Congregation of the
Sisters of Merciful Jesus.
The beatification Mass was presided over by a
personal delegate of the Holy Father, Archbishop Angelo Amato, Prefect
of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints. The homily was delivered
by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Metropolitan of Cracow, Poland.
Archbishop Angelo Amato announced the act of
beatification, reading the decree of Pope
Benedict XVI, issued on 26th September 2008 in the Vatican.
We, with our Apostolic Authority
grant permission that the Venerable Servant of God
Michael Sopocko, presbyter, who devoted his life to proclaiming Divine
Mercy, giving the example
of the priest's sanctity, be henceforth blessed and announce that his
feast will be celebrated annually on 15th February, on the day of his
birth into Heaven, in the places and in the way determined by the Law."
Those participating in the ceremony included:
Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, Archbishop
Jozef Kowalczyk; Polish Primate, Cardinal Jozef Glemp; Metropolitan Archbishop
of Vilnius, Lithuania, Cardinal Audrys Juozas Backis; Metropolitan Archbishop
of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus, Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz; Metropolitan of Foggi,
Southern Italy, Archbishop Francesco
Pio Tamburino, cardinals, more than 100 bishops, 500 priests from Poland
including Orthodox Archbishop Jakub of the Diocese of Bialystok-Gdansk.
In attendance were numerous
representatives of many women's and men's religious congregations, including
100 sisters from the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus
and 10 brothers from the Community of the Brothers of Merciful Jesus from
from the Congregation of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus also brought along
12 countries where the houses of the congregation are present.
Also in attendance were: Lech Kaczynski, the president
of the Republic of Poland; the last President-in-Exile Ryszard Kaczorowski;
the speaker of the Polish Parliament, members
of the Parliament, representatives of the City Authorities, representatives
of the Polish Army
and representatives of the world of science.
More than 80,000 faithful worshippers of Divine Mercy participated in
the ceremony and,
through television and radio transmissions, so did innumerable audiences
of the faithful
all around the world.
On 28th September 2008,
following his Angelus prayer from Castel Gandolfo,
Italy, the Holy Father Benedict XVI greeted the celebration participants:
"Welcome Polish Pilgrims who have arrived to Castel
Gandolfo. I especially extend my greetings
to those from Bialystok, Poland, who are participants in the beatification
of the Servant of God, Father Michael Sopocko, the confessor and spiritual
guide of St. Faustina Kowalska.
At his suggestion, [Sister Faustina] described her mystical experiences
of Merciful Jesus in her well-known Diary. And also thanks to his efforts,
the famous image
of Jesus with the words "Jesus, I trust in you" came into being
and was shared with the world.
This Servant of God became known as a zealous priest, teacher and promoter
of the Divine
Mercy devotion. I rejoice with the Archdioceses of Bialystok and Vilnius
and with all the faithful throughout the world to whom this message of
Merciful Jesus is dear. Also my beloved predecessor, the Servant of God,
John Paul II, most certainly rejoices in this beatification
in the Father's house. He is the one who entrusted the world to Divine
That is why I repeat his wish: "May God who is rich in mercy bless
all of you."
Speech of papal delegate Abp. Angelo
Prefect of the Congregation for Cases of Beatification and Canonization
1. Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Honored civilian,
religious, and military Leaders, beloved Priests and Monastic Sisters,
Ladies and Gentlemen. It was with great pleasure that I presided
over the beatification of Father Michael Sopocko, this extraordinary example
of priestly sanctity.
In the diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska were found these encouraging words
"Write that day and night my eyes are upon him".
And who are Jesus' eyes upon? On Blessed Michael Sopocko,
on this extraordinary Polish priest, positive role model for the young,
confessor, and spiritual guide, who has joined other great modern Polish
saints such as Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Saint Faustina Kowalska.
His extraordinary, holy life has already been presented.
It was marked with and animated by faith, hope and charity. Now I would
like to underline some attributes of Blessed Michael Sopocko
that continue to be relevant today.
2. First of all, he is a shining example of eternal
beauty, "the imitation of Christ", "sequela Christi".
To be a Christian means to live in truth, in freedom and in joy; it means
to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Whatever conditions
we find ourselves in and whatever we do,
our lives are "the imitation of Christ", "imitation Christi",
which mirrors His goodness and mercy. This is what Michael Sopocko did.
We can ask ourselves the question: how can we imitate
this Blessed Man in the practicing
of virtues and mercy? The answer is simple. Mercy is needed every day
in our families. Every day wives must be understanding to their husbands
and husbands must treat their wives accordingly
so as to continually strengthen and renew their faithfulness to each other.
Every day parents also must be generous and forgiving with their own children,
in their unending disobedience and shortcomings. However, children too
must be patient toward their parents; they should imitate
their parents' good example and listen to their exhortations. As you can
see, everyone can practice mercy, forgiveness and understanding at home,
at work, in society, at all times, in any place.
Our society needs good, honest, generous, devoted citizens.
3. There is, however, a message that Blessed Father
Sopocko in particular addresses
to the priests. Let them be unwavering in their pastoral zeal. It encourages
them to form good hearts in themselves and be merciful, to be patient,
tender and cordial, and also to persevere
in the catechization of children, teenagers and adults. It encourages
priests to devote their time
to administering the indispensable sacrament of Reconciliation.
Today more than ever the faithful feel the need to
open their souls to the confessors to hear words of consolation, forgiveness
and benediction. The deepest joy of the heart comes from sacramental forgiveness.
Let the confessional become the most important pulpit of priestly instruction.
Dearest priests, be generous in forgiveness. This is how Blessed Michael
Sopocko was. In this way we can again bring back joy of life to many human
4. He was instrumental in leading the young nun, Sister
Faustina Kowalska to sanctity.
An indispensable task of every priest is to spread God's mercy to those
who are suffering;
another of his tasks is also to lead and direct the souls of people, consecrated
or lay, on the road
to Christian perfection. Today, in the sea of opinions, a priest is called
to be nourished by the word of Jesus in order to offer the faithful truth
about God and the future of mankind. In a world of
a thousand different points of view it is difficult to discern the truth
because no one shows
it to us in a clear and authoritative manner.
It is the responsibility of priests to show the truth
of the Gospel to those of us who are lost.
It is their task to lead young people in the truth and the light which
is Jesus Christ so that they
can become good Christians and honest citizens. The Gospel is not a barrier
but rather the opposite, it is a book of joy, a book of life which conquers
death, and it is the light which dispels the darkness.
In our complex modern culture the Church needs priests
who are able to be masters of spiritual life, experienced guides with
wise knowledge about that which is good and that which is right. Youngsters
and adults today need knowledgeable people who can direct their freedom
towards choices agreeable with the Gospel.
In a world of false prophets who advertise only superficial remedies for
our lives, a priest with humility and consistency must pursue the mission
to be a shepherd of the souls of the people
and must practice true spiritual fatherhood. While parents give physical
life, spiritual directors nurse and promote spiritual life. No one is
born a Christian, but they become one "woe to him
that is alone, for when he falleth, he hath none to lift him up."
(Ecclesiastes 4, 10) Spiritual directors are experienced guides who lead
the faithful towards being virtuous and teach how to evade shortcomings.
We need spiritual fathers more than ever in this modern secularized world.
5. Confession and spiritual direction: this is the
priestly task which the blessed Michael Sopocko
set himself to so heroically in his lifetime. It is for this reason, for
his ceaseless activity, that in his funeral homily he was called "Titan
of work, hero, and God's fool" (I, 535).
His zeal in striving to save souls pushed him to try to become everything
Eagerness to promote the devotion of Divine Mercy fired his heart and
soul. It was his masterpiece. It was not unwise or careless zeal, however,
but zeal used carefully and open to reflection.
It is his wise zeal that we owe the spiritual treasure
of Sister Faustina Kowalska's diary to.
It is interesting to recall how the diary was conceived. From 1932 until
1942 Blessed Michael Sopocko was the confessor of the Sisters of Our Lady
of Mercy. There, in 1933 he met Sister Faustina Kowalska when she was
confessing to him. During her lengthy confession Sister Faustina confided
in him her private revelations concerning the Divine Mercy devotion. Her
confessions were often prolonged and tried the patience of other nuns
who were waiting for their turns. Because of this, Blessed Father Sopocko
requested Sister Faustina to make her confessions
more concise, but also to keep notes and to give them to him. In this
manner she started her diary.
Our Blessed Father Sopocko at first did not believe
the supernatural character of the written experiences of Sister Faustina.
After long and careful thought and an exacting theological examination
he came to be convinced of their truthfulness. However, that was not all.
He devoted his life to propagating the Divine Mercy devotion and established
of the Sisters of Merciful Jesus.
In this way the Most Holy Heart of Jesus, full of Mercy,
formed two Apostles of God's love:
Saint Faustina Kowalska and Blessed Father Michael Sopocko. The Heart
of Jesus encourages
us also to be propagators of forgiveness, offered and received, thankful
for these two holy Apostles who did not only spread the word of the Gospel
in their native Poland but also throughout the Church and the whole world.
I wish all of you here all the best on this
special and holy day.
Sarcophagus with the relics of the Blessed Father Michael
in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Bialystok, Poland.
for the obtaining of graces through the
intercession of the blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko
Oh Merciful God, you have made your blessed Fr. Sopocko,
the apostle of your endless Mercy and the worshipper of Our Lady, the
Mother of Mercy. Grant, through his intercession, that by praising your
Mercy and arousing trust in your fatherly goodness,
I will obtain the grace of ................. . I ask this through Christ
Our Lord. Amen.
for canonizacion of blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko.
Our Almighty Father, who, with Fatherly Goodness,
always looks after those who come to You in hope and humility to enjoy
Your Mercy, let to surround Your blessed
Michael with the glory of Your Saints. Your blessed
Michael, with all his words, deeds and testimony proclaimed to the world
Your limitless mystery of the Divine Mercy, fully revealed in Your Son,
Our Lord Jesus Christ who is alive and reigning for ever and ever. Amen.
>> My memories of the late sister Faustina - Fr. Michal Sopocko
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