It was quite a challenge to select a candidate for the dedication of OC when all of the candidates under consideration were already Saints in heaven! But we persevered and finally selected someone who was very close to our time and culture, and of course, like all of the saints, experienced life in harmony with the values extolled in our Mission Statement.
After much consideration, we chose St. Maximilian Kolbe. His biography is well known, and one can easily review the details by accessing the internet search engines and by reading his life story. Yet, there were several events during his life, for the purposes of this dedication which especially caught our attention and which we would like to highlight.
First of all, he was born Raymond Kolbe on January 8, 1894 of Polish- German ancestry in Poland and died on August 14, 1941 in the Auschwitz concentration camp of Nazi-occupied Poland. During his 47 years, he became a priest in the order of the Conventual Franciscans on 28 April 1918 in Rome, and added the name of Maria to his religious name, Maximilian, thereby showing his devotion to Our Blessed Mother.
Earlier, while a student in Rome, and in response to vehement demonstrations against Popes St. Pius X and Benedict XV, he organized the Militia Immaculata, or Army of Mary, to work for conversion of sinners and enemies of the Catholic Church, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary.
The Immaculata Friars under the direction of St. Maximilian utilized the most modern printing and administrative techniques in publishing catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million. They also used radio to spread the Catholic faith and to speak out against the atrocities of the Nazi regime. He is the only canonized saint to have held an amateur radio license, with the call sign SP3RN.
After the outbreak of World War 2 on 1 September 1939, starting with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, St. Maximilian provided shelter to refugees from Greater Poland, including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary in Niepokalanow. On 17 February 1941, he was arrested by the German Gestapo and imprisoned in the Pawiak prison, near Warsaw. On 28 May, he was transferred to Auschwitz. It was there, at the end of July, that he offered to take the place of another prisoner who was Jewish in the starvation bunker, a form of punishment meted out by the Nazis as a means for discouraging escape attempts. Eventually, after being in the bunker for 2 weeks, he was injected with carbolic acid and died. His remains were cremated on 15 August, the feast day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was canonized a Saint on 10 October 1982 in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City by Pope John Paul the 2, declaring him a martyr.
St. Maximilian is considered to be a patron saint for such things as drug addiction, families, imprisoned people, journalists, political prisoners, prisoners in general, the pro-life movement, and amateur radio, and has been honored in both the Lutheran and Anglican Churches.
In dedicating OC to St. Maximilian, we realize that we have much to live up to in following his example, both as individuals and as an organization. For we, too, live in difficult times where the Culture of Death in all of its forms is active and intimidating in countries throughout the world. It is our intention to be like St. Maximilian and so many other great saints throughout history by standing fast for those same Catholic values that they supported, even in the face of the trials and persecutions of our time. For this, we pray to all in heaven for their prayerful intercession.