Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
March 12, 2001
Order's founder renounced early apostasy
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
SMOKY LAKE — Honoratus Kozminski underwent physical and spiritual ordeals before formulating his novel way of building religious communities under the noses of Poland's Russian oppressors who were determined to restrict religion and culture.
Born into a comfortable family in 1829, Kozminski began following his father's career as an architect at the School of Fine Arts in Poland, his father's alma mater. At university not only did he lose his faith, but in an environment of activist agitation, he began trying to convert fellow Catholics to his altered secular views.
Arrested in 1846 for an alleged conspiracy against the Russian occupiers, Kozminski was jailed and appeared headed to a death sentence for treason. Prison became a body and soul battlefield. He caught a serious disease, believed to have been typhus, and fought anti-religious demons until an awakening on the feast of the Assumption in 1846.
When released from jail a year later, he publicly apologized for his Catholic apostasy and two years later joined the Capuchin Franciscans.
After ordination he began work around Warsaw and helped Maria Angela Truszkowska to found the Congregation of the Felician Sisters.
After an unsuccessful Polish revolt for independence in 1863, Russia began suppressing religious institutions and the friars of Warsaw were forced to move to Zakroczym. It was there Kozminski was led to found the numerous congregations of religious which work around the world today.
Allowed to hear Confessions, Kozminski noticed the deep spiritual direction the lives of many young people was taking. They wanted to do more than live upright lives, they wanted to form religious communities.
Kozminski knew that establishing conventual communities would not be possible, so through the secrecy of the confessional, he began forming groups of young people into secular communities with members taking simple vows. He established 26 such lay communities, all of them working secretly.
In 1905, when religious intolerance was eased slightly, the bishops accepted jurisdiction over the congregations, and with the approval of Rome, they changed their mode of operation, becoming more visible and formalized.
Kozminski died Dec. 16, 1916.
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