The Purpose of the Missionary Work
Witness: Venerable Servant of God Father Bernard Łubieński
– A Man of Great Bravery
I stand outside the door of a church, that was very well known to a confrere of mine and a venerable servant of God who one day, please God, will be canonized. His name is Father Bernard Łubieński. I would like to share his story with you.
Father Bernard Łubieński knew this place very well and knew that steeple very, very well. Since it is higher than everything here, it can be seen from miles away and serves as a landmark, should you ever get lost. Father Bernard was sent here as newly ordained priest, and ministered in that very church behind me. I am very, very proud to serve as parish priest today in that same beautiful church. As I take in the beauty in that church, I think of the many times, the many hours, the many masses, that Father Bernard would have said, celebrated or prayed in those days when he was here as a newly ordained priest. He was sent here to work with the local people, especially the poor, the forlorn and the Polish emigrants. That is exactly what father Bernard did.
Father Łubienski was born in Poland. He was 12 years old when he came to England. (I will speak more about that shortly). Born a nobleman and aristocrat, Bernard Łubienski was known as Count Łubieński. He was able to use noble bearing in his missionary work. As a man of integrity, he gained the people’s trust. Father Bernard worked here for about 10 years. It was here through this special work he learned a very important life lesson. As an older man back in Poland, he said that this church was, and I quote: “A perfect school of life, in which I learned the art of approaching souls in the pulpit, and in the confessional booths.” End of quote. The very important lesson that Father Bernard learned was the art of approaching people souls with the reverence that they deserve. This would be a mainstay in his life.
The young Count Bernard Łubieński came to England to get first-class education – so was his parents thinking. – He was sent to St. Cuthbert’s College in Ushaw, a prestigious college in Durham. As a young unsure boy, he settled in; he did well in his studies, and enjoyed his time there. He had a strong support system to guide his education and many people to influence him and ensure he was performing at his best. One of those strong supporters was his uncle Bishop Łubieński.
When Bernard was 14, Father Robert Coffin came to Durham, to deliver the student retreats. During the retreats, Father Coffin, a Redemptorist from this monastery, was expounding on the virtue and the wonders of Redemptorist or Alfonsian spirituality. That was the first time that Count Bernard Łubieński learned about Alfonsian spirituality and it made an indelible mark on his soul. He felt that the Alfonsian spirituality was something truly marvellous and quite wonderful (and how right he was!). When he finished school at the age of eighteen he made a definite decision that his life will be given over to the service of God.
He decided to follow his vocation. He went to the Dominicans and they said ”no, thank you;“ he went to Jesuits and they said, “no, thank you“ (are we lucky). But it was the Father Provincial of the Jesuits, Father Alfred Weld, who said to Bernard: “Go to the Redemptorists and see if you find something in them.” So he did and he made his short noviciate in Bishop Eton Monastery in Liverpool. I was privileged to be the rector there recently, but now I am a rector here, which is also a great privilege. It is wonderful to know that I am in the same house that Łubieński was in at a time when he was desperately trying to follow the way the Lord had tracked out for him.
With the pure heart of a young novice and a young man, he found the way to fulfil the will of God for him. He made his vows and continued his studies and eventually was ordained at the age of twenty four — , which is young age especially since he began his studies in a secondary school in a foreign country. , All of this was God’s way of leading him and directing him to the Redemptorists. After his ordination, the Provincial, Father Robert Coffin sent Father Łubieński here to Clubham. He made Father Bernard his secretary, the provincial secretary and the provincial archivist. We thank God for the work he did and we still have the fruit of that work to this present day. Father Coffin was also very keen that Father Bernard Łubieński would one day go back to Poland to revive the Redemptorist community there???. The Redemptorists were in Poland almost from the beginning of our congregation, when Saint Clement Hofbauer took the Redemptorists across the Alps from Italy to Poland and they were founded there until they were forcibly ejected some years later. Bernard always had the dream that he would take the redemptorists back again to Poland and that is indeed what he did. Thanks to Father Coffin: he was the one who told the Father General to assume this mission, assigned to Father Bernard Łubieński. He convinced him that it , would be a good and spiritually profitable mission for the Redemptorists. Yet again, Father Coffin was prophetic in those words that he said to Father General, because, indeed, he spoke the truth.
“Copiosa apud Eum redemptio” — With the Lord there is plentiful redemption is the motto of the Redmptorists and Father Bernard was known for: for his abundant redemption. He believed in the lord’s “abundance”, and he believed that anyone who went to Lord would receive redemption in abundance. After Father Bernard’s death many spoke of his abundant redemption.
There are many more stories to be told of venerable Bernard Łubieński. However, this video is not going to provide the full stories. Many more videos will be made about his wonderful life. The purpose of this video is to show something of the young boy, the young count in his education at Durham and then a young man on his way to become a redemptorist, and finally his early days as a Redemptorist priest.
Father Bernard did receive his early formation in this community and in this province in general, but the real wonder of his life is the bravery in which he took the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, the Redemptorists, back to Poland. We are delighted that the Redemptorists are there to this day in a great number as a credible witness to our Lord and the Most Holy Redeemer.
Let us pray for one another from whatever part of the world we are in. Let us ask our Mother of Perpetual Help for great sustenance and assistance and let us ask our Lord, our Brother, our Most Holy Redeemer for his help as we walk in his footsteps along the way. God bless you all!
Author: Richard Reid CSsR
* The text is related to a video, so some parts could be hard to understand without seeing the recording