Priest & Servant of Jesus Divine Mercy

Bl. Fr. Michael Sopocko was the primary Spiritual Director and Confessor of St. Faustina.  If it was not for Fr. Sopocko, the Divine Mercy diary would never have come about as it was under his instructions that St. Faustina began writing her conversations with Jesus and the details of her own spiritual life.  It was Jesus who chose Bl. Fr. Sopocko for this mission and said of him "This is the visible help for you on earth. He will help you to carry out My will on earth" (Diary, 53). and also "He is a priest after My own Heart.  Through him it pleases Me to proclaim the worship of My mercy" (Diary, 1256).

Fr. Sopocko was born in Nowosady in present day Lithuania on November 1st in 1888 of a very poor and hardworking family.  He was raised in this deeply religious family where daily family prayer and frequent attendance at services in the parish church 18 kilometers away was normal practice. 

Michael entered the Seminary in 1910 and was ordained a Priest at the age of 25 on June 15, 1914.   His first appointment was at the parish of Taboryszki near Vilnius. In the summer of 1915, the German-Russian front passed through Taboryszki. Father Sopocko consoled those who were injured by the passing army.  In 1919 Fr. Sopocko signed up as a military chaplain during the War, serving soldiers on the front line, celebrating Mass and hearing Confessions for the soldiers as well as caring for the wounded.  In Oct 1919, he registered to study at the University Warsaw studying moral theology, law and philosophy.

Later he was requested by the Bishop of Vilnius to return to Vilnius where he continued his learning by distance. He received a doctorate in 1926 and was later appointed as Spiritual Director to the Seminary and head of the Pastoral Theology Department at Vilnius University. Father Sopocko would be stationed in Vilnius in one capacity or another for many years, and in one of those years — 1933 — a particular sister would be transferred to the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Vilnius and become his penitent. This would result in a new mission that would not only affect Fr. Sopocko but eventually the whole world.

Jesus to St. Faustina "His thought is closely united with Mine, so be at peace about what concerns My work. I will not let him make a mistake, and you should do nothing without his permission" (Diary, 1408)

The painting of the Image (of Merciful Jesus) and the exposition of the Image for public honor, making the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy widely known, undertaking preliminary efforts to establish the Feast of the Divine Mercy and the founding of the new Congregation all took place in Vilnius thanks to Father Michael Sopocko. From that time the collaborative efforts, brought to fruition at the cost of prayer and suffering, now radiate to embrace the whole world.
Father Sopocko writes in his diary: "There are the truths which are known and often heard and spoken but not understandable. It was like that with me, concerning the truth of Divine Mercy. So many times I mentioned this truth in my sermons and thought about it during the retreats. I repeated it in church prayers - especially in Psalms - but I didn’t understand the meaning of this truth, and I didn’t get to the core of its essence, that it is the highest attribute of God’s external activity. It was only this simple nun, S. Faustina from the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (Magdalens), who, by telling me this truth in simple terms and often repeating it, stimulated me to examine, study and think about this truth.

(...) in the beginning I didn’t know what the problem was; I listened, distrusted, thought, studied and sought advice from others - but only several years after did I understand the greatness and importance of this work. Only then was i convinced about the effectiveness of this old, but hugely neglected life-giving devotion, and the neccesity for its renewal in or times. (...) Trust in God’s Mercy, and the spreading of devotion to His mercy among others will be the general principle of the rest of my life. With the help of His immeasurable mercy I will devote of all thoughts, words and deeds to it, without a shadow of myself".  
  Jesus to St. Faustina - "As a result of his efforts, "A new light will shine in the Church of God for the consolation of souls"
(Diary, 1390).

St. Faustina writes ..."I was talking with my spiritual director, I had an interior vision, of his soul in great suffering, in such agony that God touches very few souls with such fire. The suffering arises from this work. There will come a time when this work, which God is demanding so very much, will be as though utterly undone. And then God will act with great power, which will give evidence of its authenticity. It will be a new splendor for the Church, although it has been dormant in it from long ago. Diary 378
Fr. Sopocko would also found the new community that was requested by Jesus to St. Faustina now known as the Sisters of Merciful Jesus.  On February 3, 1942, the first meeting of the six candidates of the newly founded congregation took place in Fr. Sopocko’s apartment. Similar meetings were few. Unfortunately on March 3, 1942, Germans organized a raid and arrested almost all the priests. Father Michael Sopocko was searched for by the Gestapo for helping Jews, but he escaped from Vilnius. He was able to get to the Ursulane sisters’ convent in Czarny Bor, 4 km away from Vilnius, where he spent 2 1/2 years working as a carpenter. He communicated with the six sisters through letters. Every now and then one of the six would visit him. Father Sopocko came back to Vilnius on August 19, 1944. In November, Faustina Osinska together with her friends, asked him to accept their vows. In connection with this on November 9, 1944, he started to give to the first six a retreat. This retreat was to be an immediate preparation for the ceremony of the vows, which were planned for November 16.

 "After the retreat, at the appointed day, on early and dark morning, for the curfew was still obligatory, from different parts of the city, six girls came from the Zarzecze suburb, to the chapel of Carmelite Sisters’. There in a "catacomb" atmosphere after Holy Mass at five o’clock they took their simple private vows of loyal service to the Most Merciful Savior and His Merciful Mother. It is impossible to describe with words the joyful atmosphere that prevailed among the "newly vowed" of Christ. A simple meal was prepared at the convent gate by hospitable Sister Carmelites. How happy they were in spite of different kinds of lacking, they were so rich in spite of poverty showing itself from everywhere, they were brave and full of trust in spite of the dangers lying in wait from everywhere" (Michael Sopocko, memoirs).

Fr. Sopocko also wrote  "I congratulate you, dear Sisters. This is a special grace of Divine Mercy that has revealed itself in your vocation. Chosen ones of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pillars of the future convent, confidantes of God’s mysteries, most desired and prayed for, for the past five years in each daily Holy Mass" (Letter to the Sisters from Czarny Bor).

Referenced from:

  Bl. Fr. Michael Sopocko died on 15th February 1975 in Poleska Street in Bialystok.  And 33 years later, Fr. Sopocko was proclaimed Blessed by the Church and was beatified in Bialystok on 28th September 2008. 

Words from Bl. Michael Sopocko..
Priest and Servant of Jesus Divine Mercy
The motto ‘Jesus, I trust you!’ warms up what was cold, softens what was hard, revives what was withered, lights what was going out and instead of hatred that divides all people today it unites individuals, families, societies, nations and countries with an embrace of real brotherly love of God and neighbour."

"The message of the Gospel does not depend on proclaiming that sinners should become good, but rather that God is good for sinners"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be respectful in your comments. Anonymous comments are no longer taken.