Society of Christ

The Society of Christ for Polish Immigrants (Latin: Societas Christi pro Emigrantibus Polonis; Polish: Towarzystwo Chrystusowe dla Polonii Zagranicznej) is a Roman Catholic clerical religious congregation of pontifical right founded by the then Primate of Poland, Venerable August Hlond, in cooperation with Servant of God Father Ignacy Posadzy, SChr, on August 8, 1932. [7]Its members use the nominal letters SChr after their names.

Society of Christ
Towarzystwo Chrystusowe dla Polonii Zagranicznej ((Polish)[1]
Society of Christ logo2.png
AbbreviationPost-nominal letters: S.Chr. [2]
FormationAugust 22, 1932; 89 years ago (1932-08-22)[3]
Founders
TypeClerical Religious Congregation of Pontifical Right (for Men)[4]
PurposeSpiritual care of Poles living abroad
HeadquartersGeneral Motherhouse
Ul. Panny Marii 4, S.P. 23, 60-962 Poznań, Poland[5]
Region served
Worldwide
Members (2019)
406 (359 priests)
Motto
Polish:
Wszystko dla Boga i Polonii Zagranicznej
English:
Everything for God and the Polish Diaspora
Superior General
Fr. Krzysztof Olejnik, S.Chr.[6]
WebsiteOfficial website

HistoryEdit

After Poland regained independence in 1918, church and civil authorities made efforts to provide Poles living in other countries with every manner of assistance, especially spiritual care. Church leaders in Poland could not ignore the requests for Polish priests raised by Poles in all corners of the world. As guardian of the Polish emigrants abroad, Primate Cardinal A. Hlond consulted with the Holy See how to meet this demand. After receiving a directive from Pope Pius XI, he established the religious institute of the Society of Christ for Polish migrants in 1932. Hlond charged Fr. Ignacy Posadzy, a priest of the Archdiocese of Gniezno-Poznan, with the execution of this task and thus he is considered the co-founder of the Society of Christ. Due to changes brought about after the Polish October, 1956 was a watershed moment in the realizing of the mission of the Society. The first priests began to travel to the territories of their mission work. They are present in a number of countries including New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, Germany, France, Canada, the United States.[8][9]

On 22 April 1950, the Holy See issued Decretum Laudis recognizing the presence of the Society of Christ in the Universal Church.[10]

In 2008, a priest of the Society of Christ, Roman B. was arrested. He was accused of having sex with a 13-year-old girl over the course of a year. Investigators also discovered pedophile content on his computer, as well as e-mail correspondence with other children. Roman B. was found guilty and sentenced to prison. He was defrocked and is no longer a member of the Society. The victim filed a lawsuit against the Society of Christ. A lower court ruled in favor of the victim, awarding her PLN 1 million in compensation and a life annuity of PLN 800 per month. The Society of Christ appealed the decision. On October 2, 2018, the Court of Appeal in Poznań upheld the decision of the lower court. On March 31, 2020, the Supreme Court of Poland also upheld the decision.[11][12]

MissionEdit

The priests of the Society of Christ serve the religious needs of Polish communities around the world. They are often asked by diocesan ordinaries to assume responsibility for a diocesan parish which then serves as the center of the diocese's ministry to the Polish community.

In addition to serving abroad, the Society teaches about the Holy Mass—increasing knowledge and understanding of the liturgy. When this part of the Society's mission was presented to Pope Pius XI, he praised this part of the Society's mission adding that it should always remain a part of the Society ministry.[13]

SpiritualityEdit

In the early years of the Society, the founder, August Cardinal Hlond, and co-founder, Fr. Ignacy Posadzy, sought to form a religious order centered on prayer and devotion to God. The Society's daily prayers were inspired by the daily prayers of the Pallottines, who counseled Fr. Ignacy Posadzy during the Society's first years. Cardinal Hlond's background as a Salesian also played a large role as he leveraged his experience as a member of a religious order while writing the Society's bylaws and constitutions.

The spirituality of the Society of Christ is "above all, Christocentric spirituality" that demands a spirit of self-sacrifice and a committal to the salvation of every person. Members of the Society of Christ are to constantly strive for an increase in the spirit of selflessness and humble obedience to God. Members take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and are obligated by the Society's bylaws to live a life of daily prayer. These daily prayers include celebrating/attending Holy Mass, praying the Rosary, contemplation, spiritual reading, reading the Bible, and a Daily Examen. Through the contemplation of Christ's crucifixion, members are to grow in holiness. This is emphasized in the Society's daily prayers, the Way of the Cross devotion, the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion, and exceptional care to the liturgy, particularly that of the Holy Mass.[14]

The Society of Christ places a strong emphasis on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Members are required to go to confession at least once every two weeks. Parishes run by the Society of Christ are to make efforts to offer the Sacrament daily and especially on the first Friday of the month.

Following the words of the Society's founder, Cardinal Hlond, the Society's spirituality is also a Marian Spirituality. The Society considers the center of its Marian devotion to be Jasna Góra and it takes care to promote Marian devotion through venerations of the icon of the Madonna of Częstochowa. The Society's parishes hold many devotions to the Virgin Mary, including public recitation of the rosary in October and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary in May.

Both Cardinal Hlond and Fr. Posadzy indicated a number of saints whose example members of the Society ought to follow. They include: St. Paul, the Apostle, St. Joseph, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. John Bosco, St. Louis de Montfort, St. Józef Sebastian Pelczar, and St. Francis de Sales.[15]

FormationEdit

Formation begins at the novitiate in Mórkowo where candidates enter into postulancy. After about a month, postulants are accepted into novitiate. They then spend a year in prayer and discernment, prior to their first profession of temporary vows.[16] After their first profession of vows, they are accepted into the seminary in Poznań. Seminary formation lasts six years during which, after their fifth year of formation, seminarians make their final profession of vows and are ordained deacons. After a year as a deacon, they are ordained priests. The Superior General and the General Council must explicitly grant approval prior to any profession of vows or ordination.[17]

Causes for BeatificationEdit

There are multiple open causes for the beatification of individuals related to the Society.

Venerable August Cardinal HlondEdit

The cause for the beatification of the Society's founder, Venerable August Cardinal Hlond, commenced January 2, 1992. The diocesan investigatory phase was completed October 21, 1996. On October 22, 2008, the cause's "Positio" was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. On March 9, 2017, the Congregation's Theological Commission reviewed the "Positio" positively. On May 19, 2018, Pope Francis, after an audience with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints Angelo Cardinal Amato, signed a decree regarding Hlond's heroic virtues and declaring him Venerable.[18]

Servant of God Ignacy Posadzy SChrEdit

The cause for the beatification of the Society's co-founder and first Superior General, Servant of God Father Ignacy Posadzy SChr, commenced January 17, 2001. The diocesan investigatory phase was completed May 6, 2009. On September 3, 2009, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued a decree permitting the cause to continue in Rome. On July 7, 2011, the Congregation issued a decree validating the diocesan investigation and its report. On June 20, 2018, the cause's "Positio" was submitted to the Congregation. The "Positio" is yet to be reviewed by the Congregation's Theological Commission. Ignacy Posadzy is referred to as Servant of God.[19]

Father Paweł Kontny SChrEdit

The cause for the beatification of a priest of the Society, Paweł Kontny SChr, is in its early stages. In 1945, Father Paweł Kontny was killed by Soviet soldiers in Lędziny while protecting two girls from being kidnapped and raped by a Soviet officer.[20]

Notable membersEdit

Rudolf Marszałek SChrEdit

Chaplain during World War II, serving in the Home Army and National Armed Forces. As a member of the military arm of the Polish Underground State, he was arrested in December 1946 by the Ministry of Public Security. After spending a year in Mokotów Prison, he was sentenced to death on January 17, 1948. President Bolesław Bierut refused to exercise his pardon powers when requested and on March 8, 1948 ordered that the sentence go forth immediately. Marszałek was executed on March 10, 1948. The location of his burial is still unknown.[21]

Bishop Stanisław Stefanek SChrEdit

Bishop Stefanek was ordained to the priest of the Society of Christ on June 28, 1959. He served as the Society's vicar general. He was appointed an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamień on July 4, 1980. On October 26, 1996 he was appointed as the Bishop of Łomża. He retired when Pope Benedict XVI accepted his resignation and appointed Janusz Stepnowski to succeed him. Stefanek passed away on January 17, 2020 in Lublin and, on January 23, 2020, was buried as the Łomża cathedral.[22][23][24][25]

Congregation structureEdit

The Order, and the realization of its mission, is directed by the Superior General and General Council. It is divided into provinces, which are overseen by the Provincials and Provincial Councils.[26]

Report directly to the General Council: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Greece & South Africa

Queen of Polonia Province (North America): United States & Canada

Immaculate Conception Province (South America): Brazil

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Province (Europe): United Kingdom & Ireland

St. Joseph Province (Europe): Germany, Netherlands, Italy & Hungary

Our Lady of Częstochowa Province (Europe): France & Spain

Holy Family Province (Oceania): Australia & New Zealand

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://www. gcatholic.org/orders/137.htm
  2. ^ http://www.gcatholic.org/orders/137. htm
  3. ^ http://www.gcatholic.org/orders/137.htm
  4. ^ http://www.gcatholic. org/orders/137.htm
  5. ^ http:// www.gcatholic.org/orders/137.htm
  6. ^ http://www.gcatholic.org/orders/137.htm
  7. ^ "About the Society". Society of Christ. 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
  8. ^ "Struktura zgromadzenia". www.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  9. ^ "Historia". www.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-02-17.
  10. ^ Rev. Tadeusz Winnicki, SChr, Superior General (December 22, 1998). "Ministry of the Society of Christ Fathers to Polish Migrants". Society of Christ Fathers. Retrieved 2011-05-06.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ http:// www. pap.pl/aktualnosci/news,1589321,sad-utrzymal-wyrok-milionowego-odszkodowania-dla-kobiety-gwalconej-przez-ksiedza.html
  12. ^ https:// www.reuters.com/article/us-poland-church-paedhophilia/polish-court-upholds-damages-from-church-in-pedophile-case-idUSKCN1MC206
  13. ^ "Misja zgromadzenia". www.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  14. ^ "Historia". www.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  15. ^ Kozioł, Bogusław (2008). Wszystko dla Boga, wszystko dla dusz... : duchowość Towarzystwa Chrystusowego według o. Ignacego Posadzego TChr. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Towarzystwa Chrystusowego Hlondianum. ISBN 978-83-60214-67-1. OCLC 1150674464.
  16. ^ "Księża Chrystusowcy » O nas" (in Polish). Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  17. ^ "O nas..." seminarium.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  18. ^ "Historia procesu beatyfikacyjnegosługi Bożego kard. Augusta Hlonda". www.patrimonium.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  19. ^ "Przebieg procesu beatyfikacyjnego sługi Bożegoks. Ignacego". www.patrimonium.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  20. ^ "Osoby". www.patrimonium.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  21. ^ "Biografia". www.patrimonium.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-01-16.
  22. ^ Redakcja (2020-01-18). "W lubelskim szpitalu zmarł biskup Stanisław Stefanek". Kurier Lubelski (in Polish). Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  23. ^ Redakcja (2020-01-20). "Uroczystości pogrzebowe śp. bp. Stanisława Stefanka. Zostanie pochowany w katedrze". Gazeta Współczesna (in Polish). Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  24. ^ "Zmarł bp Stanisław Stefanek SChr". tchr.us (in Polish). Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  25. ^ "Zmarł bp Stanisław Stefanek SChr". www.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  26. ^ "Struktura zgromadzenia". www.chrystusowcy.pl. Retrieved 2021-01-15.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit