Blessed Wincenty Stefan Frelichowski
Chelmza (Poland), January 22, 1913 – Dachau, February 23, 1945
Roman Martyrology: In the prison camp near Dachau Monaco of Bavaria in Germany, blessed Vincent Frelichowski, a priest who, during the same war, deported to several prisons, never lost faith or his pastoral ministry, suffered from disease while he provided assistance to the sick, after long suffering came to the vision of eternal peace.
It can be said that his priestly ministry was mainly in German concentration camps, only a little over three years, his young priesthood, was played among the faithful in Poland, the others all spent six years as a prisoner until his death at 32.
Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski was born January 22, 1913 Chelmza a small town in northern Poland, after school, he attended the gymnasium of the State address humanistic, obtaining the degree of maturity in 1931.
When he was young, he participated in the activities of the Scouts and the Marian Sodality, he also served Mass as an altar boy. At 18 he entered the seminary of the diocese of Chelmno, based in Pelplin, to prepare with intellectual and spiritual commitment to the priestly mission.
He was ordained a priest on March 4, 1937, almost immediately becoming secretary of the bishop; on July 1, 1938, he was sent as vicar to the parish on Ascension Toru, where he devoted himself zealously to pastoral care, leading a life with simplicity and celebrating Mass with a surprising fervor.
In the midst of his apostolate in the parish, came the outbreak of the Second World War with the invasion of Poland on September 2, 1939 by the Nazi troops. About ten days later, on September 11, he was arrested along with other priests and closed in the city jail, released for a few days, again imprisoned on October 18, 1939 and then lost definitively and without cause his freedom. He was imprisoned first in a former bastion near Toru called Fort VII, where he worked to raise the morale of his fellow prisoners, claiming their faith. After a brief stay in the area of Nowy Port, he was transferred on January 10, 1940 in Stutthof on the outskirts of Gdansk, where he was engaged in excavation work.
Here too he was able to illegally obtain a ostia e un po ‘di vino and reprisals by challenging, in humble conditions, managed to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Thursday of 1940, managed to organize in the area moments of common prayer, both in the morning and the evenin , in honor of Our Lady of the Afflicted.
On April 9, 1940 he was still a transfer with other fellow prisoners, the camp of Oranienburg – Sachsenhausen near Berlin, where they were initially placed in ‘quarantine’ in Block 20, which commanded the war criminal Hugon Kreye, known for his cruelty.
Wincenty Frelichowski with the ardor of his young priesthood continued discreetly in the apostolic service to the sick, the elderly and young people, finding all words of consolation and hope, trying to replace the weak, supporting with dignity the humiliation and persecution that the required capoblocco bloodthirsty.
On December 13, 1940, with other priests , he was transferred again, this time to Dachau, where he continued for what little he could do, to exercise his priesthood; he refused to renounce the Polish nationality and to sign the so-called “Deutsche Volksliste” which would have meant better living conditions and the refusal caused a cruel reprisals, was admitted to the hospital of the camp and also played the spiritual assistance to others the many sick and dying.
In 1943-44 there was a period of improvement in the camp, prisoners could receive food parcels from family and the young priest received parcels from his family, so was able to receive hosts and wine with which he celebrated Mass in different blocks. He also organized a distribution of food to those who did not receive anything.
In 1944, for the disastrous conditions of the camp at Dachau, an epidemic of typhus broke out and the blocks were in fact separated by barbed wire and left the sick in inhuman conditions; father Wincenty could communicate with them to bring a piece of bread and the comfort of faith to the dying, despite the warnings of colleagues to protect themselves, to avoid the contagion, which he contracted for his generosity.
To typhus was added a pneumonia, which ended his life at just 32 years on February 23, 1945, a few weeks before the liberation. We do not know if his body was burned in the crematorium or buried in a mass grave.
So closed his young but intense life, to open it to the glory reserved for martyrs. Pope John Paul II beatified him on June 7, 1999, in Toru, his diocese during his seventh apostolic visit to Poland.
Author: Antonio Borrelli
Source: Santi e Beati