Franciszek Stefczyk - a candidate for altars
Fr. Ireneusz Skubiś
In the first days of December this year, I was lucky to walk in Lvov. I visited the Lvov Łyczakowski Cemetery, the Lvov Eaglets Cemetery, the church of St. Maria Magdalena and the Lvov cathedral where I celebrated the Holy Mass and preached a sermon. There were emotional moments before the picture of Our Lady of Grace towards which the Polish king Jan Kazimierz consisted vows, which are remembered in a special way and realized in Jasna Gora Vows. Lvov - a town so Polish. Great Poles lived here. There are still so many souvenirs of Polishness, names, temples, tenement houses, figures. Today the population of this city amounts to about one million, and it includes a dozen of Poles - it is difficult to estimate their number because of a fear accompanying admitting to Polishness. It is a pity because Lvov is a great Polish culture, for example, it is the University of Jan Kazimierz with its prominent professors and graduates or a specific Lvov accent and humour in Polish language. We meet our venerable compatriots in Lvov again and again, who emanate with joy and unusual Sarmatian kindness. Today everything is formally different. Polish churches belong to the Ukrainians and they are often the temples of the Greek Catholics and those of them who admit to their Polishness, cannot regain what once belonged to them. My visit in Lvov was connected with the meeting of the Academic Council SKOK (consisting of economists, lawyers, scholars, university professors and workers of academic institutes), which submitted a proposal of initiating the beatification process of the founder of saving-loan institutions - dr. Franciszek Stefczyk. He died in 1924 in Krakow but was buried in Lvov, in a grave on Lyczakowski Cemetery, with his wife Wiktoria. According to the historical studies, Franciszek Stefczyk - a social and cooperative activist, historian and economist, privately father of three children - was a man who cared about the quality of his faith and the consequences of his belonging to the Church. The initial studies in this area were carried out by a young historian Marcin Konik-Korn. He presented the results of his studies on the first meeting of the Academic Council, to which also Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, the metropolitan of Lvov was invited. The person of Franciszek Stefczyk appears here as a man generally appreciated, loved and deserving much respect. Of course, the data needed for the beatification process must be clear, univocal and easy to verify which is not going to be easy because the information about the person of Franciszek Stefczyk are very dispersed and laborious investigations will still be needed. The presentation submitted by Marcin Konik-Korn was accepted very well, considering professionalism and the deep essence of his investigations. Archbishop Mokrzycki suggested that he should be a postulator in the beatification process of Franciszek Stefczyk. According to the canonization norms, the nomination of a postulator must be confirmed by the local archbishop who must also give his agreement to begin the preparatory work in the phase of the process in a diocese. Because the connection of Franciszek Stefczyk with Lvov, his funeral in this town, this matter lies in the management by Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki. The Academic Council of SKOK showed a lot of complacency both of the studies and the meeting with priest archbishop because it is a good beginning to take up the matter of beatification of the social pioneer. These processes are, certainly, long-term and require laborious work and detailed studies, and, at the end, there always must be God's seal, that is, a miracle - the matter which must undergo exact and careful investigation by the Holy See Tribunal, which could acknowledge a particular event a miracle.
I am personally certain that the man who really wanted to bring a relief to the poor by creating famous Stefczyk Fund, which would weaken the usury and which wanted to give fair life to the poor and he also gave his life, which he devoted to the poor, to God. It is proved, among the others, by obituaries after his death and funeral. Telling about this event, I want to note that it would be good if Poland had a new Blessed man who is so particularly connected with the human poverty. We know what difficulties were faced by Poles at the end of XIX century and the beginning of XX century and whose a clear sign was a great wandering of our compatriots from Galicia to America in the quest of work and food. Today, when we are also so often emigrating in the quest of a better life, Franciszek Stefczyk could be a valuable patron for us, giving an example of a beautiful and a particular love to our neighbor - this imagination of mercy for which John Paul II appealed. So, my travel to Lvov was a particular visit to this town, included in the pilgrimage to the grave of Franciszek Stefczyk by participants of today's SKOK institutions with the chairman Grzegorz Bierecki. We met during a prayer at the grave of the founder of the cooperative movement in Poland. As one of the initiators of beginning the beatification process of Franciszek Stefczyk, I am proud of this initiative.