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Maximilian Kolbe - 22/10/2023

Dear brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last week was the anniversary of Maximilian Kolbe’s canonisation as a Saint by Pope John Paul the Second in 1982. Kolbe was a Franciscan Friar who was a prisoner of war at Auschwitz. After an escape by a fellow prisoner, the camp commander attempted to deter further escapes by randomly selecting ten men to be starved to death in an underground bunker. When one of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, "My wife! My children!" Kolbe volunteered to take his place. He then ministered to the other nine prisoners in the starvation bunker by leading them in prayer and songs, despite he himself also being denied food and water. After two weeks Kolbe and three other prisoners were still alive, at which point he was martyred by lethal injection. Franciszek Gajowniczek, who was a guest of Pope John Paul II when Kolbe was canonised, was later quoted saying “so long as he ... has breath in his lungs, he would consider it his duty to tell people about the heroic act of love by Maximilian Kolbe.” We too as Brothers and Sisters in Christ have had someone die for us so we may live. I for sure will be taking Gajowniczek’s example and telling of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us upon a cross. But I am also struck how Kolbe did not just volunteer to save one prisoner, but went to his death so he could also spiritually and pastorally attend to the others that were condemned.

Rev’d Pete Farquhar

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