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Saint of the Day

St. Joseph Sebastian Pelczar

January 19
Born: 1842 in Poland.
Died: 1924.

Raised in a pious family. Studied in Rzeszów, and entered the seminary at Przemysl in 1860. Ordained on 17 July 1864. Parish priest at Sambor.

Transferred to Rome in 1866, he studied at the Collegium Romanum (Gregorian University) and the Institute of Saint Apollinaris (Lateran University). Doctor of theology and a canon lawyer. Professor at the seminary at Przemysl from 1869 to 1877, and at the University of Krakow from 1877 to 1899, he was known as a great educator who was always available to students. Dean of the Theology Department. Rector of the University of Krakow from 1882 to 1883.

All the while he was teaching Joseph was still involved at the parish level. He worked with the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and was president of the Society for the Education of the People for 16 years. He started hundreds of libraries, delivered free lectures, published over a thousand books, wrote several books of history, theology and canon law himself, and started a school for servants. He founded the Fraternity of Our Lady, Queen of the Polish Crown in 1891; the Fraternity cared for the poor, orphans, apprentices, servants, the sick and unemployed. Founded the Congregation of Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on 15 April 1894 in Krakow to work with the sick and spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Bishop of Przemysl in 1900 until his death in 1924. He made frequent visits to the parishes, supported the religious orders, conducted three synods, and worked for the education and religious formation of his priests. He encouraged devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, Eucharistic devotions, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. He built and restored churches, built nurseries, kitchens, homeless shelters, schools for the poor, and gave tuition assistance to poor seminarians. He worked for the implementation of the social doctrine described in the writings of Pope Leo XIII. He left behind a large body of work including books, pastoral letters, sermons, addresses, prayers and other writings.

"The late Bishop of Przemysl personified the most beautiful qualities and talents of the episcopate. Witness his tireless pastoral zeal, his spirit of initiative combined with energy manifested in action; witness the splendor of his scholarship, or, even more noteworthy, the sanctity of his virtues; witness above all the shining example of his exceptional work combined with a truly youthful enthusiasm." - Father Antoni Bystrzonowski, Saint Joseph's student and successor

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