Tag Archives: Catholic priests



Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt5:10)

In September a Beatification Mass took place to give the Church a new Blessed. Blessed Wladyslaw Bukowinski was born in 1904 in Ukraine but was a naturalised Pole. He was educated in different parts of Ukraine and later in Krakow. From 1923 until 1925 Blessed Wladyslaw studied and graduated with honours from the Polish School of Political Science. He was made a Master of Law in 1926. Also that year he decided to study for the priesthood. After his studies were completed Blessed Wladyslaw was ordained a priest in 1931. He worked for the Church in a variety of settings, moving to Lucka in 1936.

At the outbreak of World War II the Bishop of Lucka appointed Blessed Wladyslaw as pastor in the main Cathedral, where he became known for his calmness in the face of war and for his intelligence and spiritual values in defence of religion. For this, Blessed Wladyslaw was arrested on 22 August 1940 and sentenced to eight years in camps. Towards the end of the war various prisoners were massacred, but Blessed Wladyslaw narrowly avoided this fate and later returned to his priestly duties.

He was arrested a second time and was relocated to Kiev, where he was imprisoned and accused of treason. In 1946 Blessed Wladyslaw was sentenced to ten years in the gulag, his labour being digging ditches and clearing trees. He once contracted severe pneumonia and was taken to hospital under guard. When well again he was sent back to prison. Whilst in prison, despite his own discomfort, Blessed Wladyslaw brought comfort to other prisoners, especially through the sacraments.

In 1954, Blessed Wladyslaw was released from prison and sent to Karanganda in Kazakhstan, where he worked as a watchman on a construction site. He was actually the first Catholic priest to arrive in Kazakhstan and still continued his priestly ministry, secretly celebrating Mass in private homes with curtained windows to avoid detection. As an exile, Blessed Wladyslaw was obliged to report to the police station every month.

He celebrated Holy Mass in secrecy in people’s homes with the curtains closed to avoid detection

In June 1955, Blessed Wladyslaw rejected a proposition that he return to Poland, deciding instead to assume citizenship of the Soviet Union so that he could remain and continue his priestly ministry in Kazakhstan. In May 1956 he received his Soviet passport and continued working as a priest.

In 1959, Blessed Wladyslaw was again arrested and accused of illegal actions. He was sentenced to three and a half years in a labour camp at Irkutsk. In 1961 he was released and returned to Karanganda, where he continued his priestly ministry again.

He visited Poland three times between 1963 and 1973, meeting the Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II. Blessed Wladyslaw was constantly the subject of communist surveillance. On returning to Karanganda, Blessed Wladyslaw’s health started to deteriorate and he died on 3 December 1974 with his rosary beads in his hand. In 2011 Blessed Wladyslaw was granted a posthumous award of the Commander Cross with the Star of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland.

– From: Spiritual Thought From Fr Chris/ November 2016



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On 24th July, the Church in this country celebrates the feast of St John Boste, one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Collectively, these Martyrs are celebrated in May, but St John Boste is celebrated today, the anniversary of his execution.

St John was born around 1544 in Dufton, Westmoreland. He was educated at Appleby Grammar School and Queen’s College, Oxford. Two years later he was back in Appleby, to become the first headmaster under the charter of Queen Elizabeth I.

St John converted to Catholicism in 1576, left England, and was ordained a priest at Rheims in March 1581. St John returned to England and worked as a missionary priest in Northern England. The authorities, who were against Catholics, wanted to arrest him. However, he evaded arrest for ten years before being betrayed to the authorities.

After having celebrated a clandestine Mass in 1594 held at Waterhouse the authorities stormed the building and found St John hiding in a ‘priest hole’ behind the fireplace.

Following his arrest, St John was taken to the Tower of London for interrogation on the rack. He was later taken to Dryburn, where he was hung, drawn and quartered. St John recited the Angelus prayer as he ascended the scaffold. St John denied he was a traitor by saying, “My function is to invade souls, not to meddle in temporal invasions.”

John Boste was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929 and declared a saint as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales by Pope Paul VI in 1970. St John Boste, pray for us.

– From: Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris


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George Swallowell was a Protestant minister of Houghton Spring, England, when he visited a Catholic layman imprisoned for his faith.

George began a doctrinal debate with the man, a contest he soon found himself losing. When the Catholic parishioner pointed out the absurdity of claiming that Queen Elizabeth I was supreme head of the Church, George began to recognise the fallacy of his own beliefs. Not long afterwards, he mounted the pulpit of his church to announce that he had been in error in professing the Protestant religion, and would no longer lead services there.

He was quickly jailed. In July of 1594, George was tried together with two Catholic priests, (Blesseds) John Boste and John Ingram. Seized with fear, George agreed to conform to the Protestant religion. Father Boste turned to him and asked, “George Swallowell, what have you done?”

Immediately George repented of his lapse and repudiated his preceding words, declaring that he would die in the same faith as that of the priests. Father Boste turned to him again and placed his hand upon his head to absolve him. George was drawn and quartered with merciless brutality on 26th July 1594.

– From: Catholic Compendium


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[On 14th February], one of the Blesseds remembered by the Church is Blessed Vicente Vilar David. The youngest of eight children, Blessed Vicente was born to a ceramics manufacturer and his wife on June 28, 1889, in Valencia, Spain. His parents were devoted to their Catholic faith, and their children received a good Christian education. After attending a school run by the Piarist Fathers, Blessed Vicente enrolled at a technical school and earned an industrial engineer’s degree.

Blessed Vicente married a young woman named Isabel and the two lived a model Christian life together. Blessed Vicente became involved in his parish, helping the priests however he could. He also took over the management of his father’s ceramics factory. His workers saw him not only as their boss, but also as a caring father. He was concerned that they would be treated with the justice and dignity to which all workers have a right.

He got fired because of his Catholic beliefs

In the summer of 1936, the Spanish Civil War was at its peak in Valencia. The persecution of Catholics and of the Church by the governing regime was also very intense. Blessed Vicente, who had been teaching at a ceramics trade school, was fired because of his Catholic beliefs. He bravely continued to encourage other Catholics and to give the priests whatever support and help he could. He would welcome priests and religious into his home in order to save their lives.

On February 14, 1937, he was called to appear before a tribunal and commanded to stop his activities on behalf of the Catholic Church. Blessed Vicente replied that being a Catholic was his greatest calling and he would not give up, even if it meant death. He was immediately sentenced to be executed. He was permitted to see his wife and encouraged her with words of faith and conviction. He publicly forgave his persecutors and enemies. Then he was shot to death on the very same day he was arrested.

The ceramics factory workers were outraged. In protest at Blessed Vicente’s execution, they went on strike for three days. They told the socialist officials who tried to prevent their strike, “You have robbed us of our employer and our father. Because he was prudent, kind, and concerned for our working conditions, we not only respected him; we loved him.”

Blessed Vicente was beatified on October 1, 1995 by Pope Saint John Paul II. His death by violent hands was recognised as a true martyrdom for the faith. Our faith applies to every aspect of our lives. In our family and social life, our time at school, our time spent working, we are called to put into practice the values that Jesus taught in the Gospel.

– From: Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris (2/2016)


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A servant said to his master, who was a good village curate: “Did you observe the attitude of such and such a man in church, the weary manner of another, the inattention of…”

“Yes, I observed it,” interrupted the good priest, with a calm smile, “and I tried to be more fervent than usual to-day, in order that God, whilst paying attention to my prayer, might perceive less the faults of those poor people.”

Behold what kind hearts do when they see the failings of their neighbours.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889


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• “‘Who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?’ (Luke 22:27)


• ‘Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are ‘consecrated to be… a royal priesthood’ (CCC 1546)


• St Thomas Becket is the Patron saint of English priests. They are blessed because of this and stand on the broad shoulders of this manly and courageous saint. His murder in Canterbury cathedral was witnessed first hand. Like St Stephen, with blood streaming down his face he prayed, ‘Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.’ His last words as he lay dying were, ‘For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church I am ready to embrace death.’ We pray for our clergy that they would know a renewal of their grace of ordination and dedicate their lives in a new way to the building of the kingdom of heaven.


• St Thomas Becket, pray for us. St Thomas Becket, pray for our priests and give them strength to live out their holy vocation.


• Our Father…, Ten Hail Mary…, Glory be…


• Today my prayer is for…”

– From the Resource for the Year of Faith 2012 by Alive Publishing.


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“It was while Speke Hall was still in Catholic hands that Rev. John Almond died for the Catholic Faith. He was born about the year 1577 at Speke, so one account says, or on the borders of Alperton, as he himself states in his examination. He went to school at Much Woolton, and passed thence to the English College at Rheims and then to that at Rome. Little is known of his life on the Mission, but the following account of him is given in Challoner’s Memoirs of Missionary Priests:


…came to suffer at Tyburn for the Catholic religion…


‘On Saturday, being 5th December, 1612, between 7 and 8 in the morning, came to suffer at Tyburn for the Catholic religion John Almond, a man of the age of 45, by his own relation; yet in his countenance more grave and staid, beginning to be besprinkled with hairs that were white – who having tarried beyond the seas about ten years to enable himself by his studies returned into his native country, where he exercised a holy life with all sincerity, and a singular good content to those that knew him, and worthily deserved both a good opinion of his learning and sanctity of life… full of courage and ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him.’


‘Ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him’


Mr. Almond, Challoner says, was apprehended on March 22, 1612, and brought before Mr. John King, lately advanced to the bishopric in London. At his examination he showed wonderful courage and most extraordinary acuteness, as the following will show. [A – Rev. John Almond; B – Anglican Bishop John King]


B. What is your name? A. My name is Francis. B. What else? A. Lathome. B. Is not your name Molyneux? A. No. B. I think I shall prove it to be so. A. You will have more to do than you ever had to do in your life. B. What countryman are you? A. A Lancashire man. B. In what place were you born? A. About Allerton. B. About Allerton! Mark the equivocation. Then not in Allerton? A. No equivocation. I was not born in Allerton, but in the edge or side of Allerton. B. You were born under a hedge then, were you? A. Many a better man than I, or you either, has been born under a hedge. B. What! you cannot remember that you were born in a house? A. Can you? B. My mother told me so. A. Then you remember not that you were born in a house, but only that your mother told you so; so much I remember, too. B. Were you ever beyond the seas? A. I have been in Ireland. B. How long since you came thence? A. I remember not how long since, neither is it material. B. Here is plain speaking, is it not? A. More plain than you would give, if you were examined yourself before some of ours in another place. A. I ask, are you a priest? A. I am not Christ; and unless I were Christ in your own grounds, I cannot be a priest. B. Are you a priest, yes or no? A. No man accuseth me. B. Then this is all the answer I shall have? A. All I can give unless proof come in. B. Where have you lived, and in what have you spent your time? A. Here is an orderly course of justice sure! What is it material where I have lived, or how I have spent my time, all the while I am accused of no evil?


He flung some three or four pounds in silver amongst the poor that crowded about the scaffold


He thus continued to parry the questions put to him through a long and tedious examination, after which he was committed to Newgate Prison, from whence after some months he was brought to trial, upon an indictment of high treason, for having taken orders beyond the sea by authority of the See of Rome, and for remaining in this country contrary to the laws. At his trial he showed the same vivacity of wit and resolution as he had done in his examination, but was brought in guilty by the jury, though he neither denied nor confessed his being a priest; and what proofs were brought of his being such do not appear.


At his execution he prayed earnestly for the king and all the royal family, and that his posterity might inherit the crown of England for ever. He flung some three or four pounds in silver amongst the poor that crowded about the scaffold, saying: ‘I have not much to bestow or give, for the keeper of Newgate hath been somewhat hard unto me and others that way, whom God forgive, for I do. For, I having been prisoner there since March, we have been ill-treated continually, for we were all put down into the hole or dungeon, or place called Little Ease, whence was removed since we came thither two or three cart-loads of filth or dirt; we were kept twenty-four hours without bread, meat or drink, loaded with irons, lodging on the damp ground, and so continued for ten days or thereabouts.’


‘Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul’


He gave the executioner a piece of gold, and desired him to give him a sign when the cart was to be drawn away, so that he might die with the name of Jesus in his mouth. He often repeated the words, ‘Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul,’ and at the sign being given, he cried, ‘Jesu, Jesu, Jesu,’ and than hanging for the space of three Paters [‘Our Father’, i.e. The Lord’s Prayer], some of the bystanders pulling him by the legs to dispatch his life, he was cut down and quartered, his soul flying quickly to Him who redeemed us all. So far the manuscript written by an eyewitness, says Bishop Challoner, who adds: ‘Mr. Almond suffered at Tyburn, December 5, 1612, in the forty-fifth year of his age, the eleventh of his Mission.”

– From: Old Catholic Lancashire, Dom F. O. Blundell, Burns Oates & Washbourne, Publishers to the Holy See, London 1925


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