Blessed Louis Mzyk, February 20

mzykBlessed LOUIS MZYK,  Priest

Novice Master, Society of the Divine Word

Chorzow Story 1905-Poznan, February 20, 1940

His martyrdom occurred in the maximum security prison in Poznan. A priest who was imprisoned together with Fr. Mzyk testified to his death. One guard in the camp seemed to derive a special pleasure in persecuting Fr. Louis. He went out of his way to insult our confrere and to attack him. On February 20, 1940, this guard came back drunk to the prison. He met three prisoners, among whom was Fr. Mzyk. He sent the other two away and began shouting at him, beating him, and kicking him. Then the guard threw him down a flight of stairs, dragged him to the gate, and twice shot him in the head. Fr. Louis was 35.

Father Mzyk came from Silesia. One of nine children, he was born in Chorzow Stary. After meeting an SVD who came to his parish to give a retreat, he dreamed of becoming a missionary. At 13 he was accepted into the minor seminary in Nysa, Poland. His father, who was sickly, died while Louis was studying there. Since his family was poor, during summer vacations Louis worked in the same mine where his father had been employed. His brother William later said, “With this work he not only provided for the continuation of his studies but also helped his mother.” After six years at Nysa he did his novitiate at St. Augustine, Germany, where he also studied philosophy. His superiors recognized his talents and potential, so they sent him to Rome for his studies in theology. There Louis was ordained a priest on October 30, 1932. His most lasting impression — after his ordination and First Mass — was the audience held by Pope Pius XI on November 5, 1932, for the ordination class and their relatives. He remained in Rome long enough to complete a doctorate in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Fr. Louis had hoped to be appointed to Japan or China, but he was ready to go wherever his superiors would send him — which was Poland. After several months assisting the novice master at St. Gabriel, Austria, he was appointed the first novice master of the recently established Polish Province. The novitiate was begun in Chludowo in 1935. From the beginning he showed evidence of his holiness. The novices were impressed by his simplicity, humility, and courteousness. His very presence promoted harmony in community. He was truly gifted with introducing novices to the religious missionary life. He was popular with them, and they genuinely enjoyed his presence.

The first months of the war were relatively quiet for the community in Chludowo. But on January 25, 1940, the Gestapo began to round up priests in the Poznan area. Fr. Mzyk was among those arrested and transported to Poznan, where he met violence and death.

Together with three of his Society of the Divine Word companions, Blessed Louis Mzyyk was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 13, 1999, as part of a group of 107 Polish martyrs of the Second World War.

SOURCE: Society of the Divine Word

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