God bless you all, my dear readers---Introibo
Faithful amid the raging tempest: Fr. Wiktor Mroz O.F.M.
By Joanna from Poland
This is a story of a simple Franciscan priest whose heroic life could be made into a Hollywood movie if the entertainment industry would not have fallen completely under Satan’s dominion (if you think I’m exaggerating, consider the latest Padre Pio biopic and I beg you not to see this diabolical garbage of a movie if you value your immortal soul and instead listen to the discussion concerning it on Catholic Family Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJlvJJ2Zvow).
To the best of my knowledge, Fr. Mroz is virtually unknown in the English-speaking world although he spent some 27 years serving the faithful in North America – it’s high time this zealous and faithful priest got the recognition he deserves.
I take no credit other than for writing this brief introduction and conclusion, as well as compiling various sources in Polish, and translating their content into English. My own comments will be given in square brackets.
A Most Interesting Life
Fr. Wiktor Mroz was born on January 29, 1915. He would study for the priesthood in several Franciscan seminaries. His superior, confessor, and spiritual director was one and the same person – Maximilian Kolbe. [His baptismal name was Franciszek – Francis, and his real last name was Blaz – he changed it into “Mroz” in 1944 for safety reasons in the time of World War II; Wiktor – Victor was his religious name.]
One day young Victor prayed for discerning the will of God in his life. He was pondering what he should become – a lay brother or a priest. Father Maximilian [Kolbe] told him: “If you wish to save your soul, you have to become a priest." [Fr.] Kolbe added: “Your life shall be hard but your last years shall be happy." One day he [Fr. Kolbe] prophesized the number of years Fr. Mroz would spent as a priest – over 50 years of priesthood.
Fr. Mroz was ordained a priest on June 20, 1941 – the same year Fr. Kolbe gave his own life in exchange for his neighbor [in a German concentration camp at Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland]. After his ordination, he served as an assistant pastor at Calvary [a town in Poland]. Then he was a professor at the Higher Franciscan Seminary in the city of Lviv [then part of Poland]. During World War II Fr. Mroz was a military chaplain for the Polish underground army [I will elaborate on Father’s heroic war years later in this post].
In 1944 he manages to get to Bavaria where he serves Polish Catholics in Munich and acts as a temporary military chaplain in General Patton’s Third Army. He served in the Polish Guards Companies in Erlangen from July 1945 to 1947 [established by the U.S. Armed Forces in 1945 in Germany as auxiliary units for dealing with security and other technical and organizational tasks in the region controlled by the USA].
In July 1947 Fr. Mroz goes to the United States where he works as an editor of a Polish daily newspaper for two and a half years. He gives a retreat in Wisconsin and works as a missionary. In December 1949 he volunteers for missionary work in Japan [where he would stay for nearly two decades] where he is in charge of teaching and administering medical care to the victims of the radioactive contamination. After 18 years in Japan, Fr. Mroz gets to Canada where he works as an assistant pastor in Francisca-run churches, and becomes a chaplain for St. Adalbert’s mission in Montreal. In 1969, Fr. Mroz moves to Buffalo, New York [the final destination on his adventurous route around Europe, Asia, and North America] and spends his first eight years in that city as hospital chaplain.
November 25, 1977 at 11 a.m. Fr. Mroz leaves his Franciscan parish in Buffalo and joins the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement which was probably the first* organized movement [of traditional Catholics] in the USA.
* The first organization of Traditional Catholics was established by Fr. Gommar A. DePauw under the supervision of His Excellency Bp. Blaise Kurz on March 15, 1965.
The ORCM was founded on an incentive from the Mexican cristero Father Joaquin Saenz y Arriaga S.J., who co-operated with [then] Fathers Carmona and Zamorra. Initially, the ORCM was comprised of Fr. Fenton, [then] Fr. Robert McKenna O.P., and [then] Fr. Kelly of the SSPX. In 1975, the ORCM is joined by Fathers Paul Marceau, Charles P. Donohue, Leo M. Carley, Daniel E. Jones, Joseph Gorecki, and Placid White O.S.B.
[Fr. Mroz recalls:] “When I entered the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary in Monroe, Connecticut, I felt that I finally returned home, where I belong. In the ORCM I am once again at the right place – the place where there is the Faith for which I was ordained 19 years ago."
[Fr. Mroz had considered himself a traditionalist priest even before the joined the ranks of the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement since he continued to say the Traditional Latin Mass for many years despite the imposition of the invalid and sacrilegious Novus Ordo, as related in Buffalo News two days after Fr. Mroz died. Source: http://semperfidelisetparatus.blogspot.com/2013/04/buffalo-news-wiktor-mroz.html]
In November 1977, there were two lectures in the state of New York, one in Buffallo, and one in Rochester which gathered around 770 people. That’s seven hundred and seventy attendants. Thanks to Fr. Mroz, Catholic Mass was said on a regular basis in the area of Buffalo. In 1979, eleven priests of the ORCM offered Holy Mass in sixteen venues, such as in California, Colorado, Florida, and New York.
Fr. Mroz established a new Franciscan headquarters. Brothers gather around Our Lady’s chapel in Paulsboro, New Jersey. They consider Fr. Maximiliam Kolbe to be their spiritual father.
On July 20, 1991 Fr. Mroz celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest, as foretold by Fr. Kolbe.
His priestly anniversary remembrance picture reads:
United States 1947-1949
Buffalo, New York since 1969
In the Traditional Movement since November 1977
“Hold Fast to the Tradition” (2 Tes. 2:15)
Father Victor Mroz O.F.M. Conv.
A Franciscan master of novices who had known Fr. Mroz very well, said that the Polish Franciscan had suffered greatly from angina [a painful heart disease] for decades. He would never complain and saw it as his cross; the will of God, and an effective way of avoiding much greater suffering in Purgatory. Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was said to have exerted tremendous influence upon Fr. Mroz's life.
Fr. Mroz died on April 28, 1992, in the odor of sanctity, on the feast day of St. Louis Marie de Montfort. He was buried at St. Adalbert’s cemetery in Lancaster.
The Enemies He Had to Fight
Compiled and translated from: https://nondraco.wordpress.com/2020/05/29/wykleci-zolnierze-kosciola-walczacego/
Fr. Mroz was a fighting priest – his enemies being Ukrainian nationalism, German National Socialism, and post-conciliar neo-Modernism. The first of these forces of evil he had to combat in his own little fatherland, where he was sent to work as a young priest and catechist in October 1943 – in the village of Hanaczow near Lviv in war-torn Poland. The village was well-populated, having around 3,000 residents, including Polish refugees from Wolyn [people who managed to survive the cruel genocide perpetrated by their Ukrainian neighbors there – little did they know that they were not safe in Hanaczow either…] and Jews in hiding; soon a group of Soviet guerilla soldiers would arrive there too.
Fr. Wiktor arrived at Hanaczow a few months after the Wolyn massacre had begun with the bloody Sunday of July 11, 1943, and its inhabitants feared they would share the tragedy of their fellow compatriots in Wolyn. It was decided that the village should have its defense organized after the example of other towns to fight against the genocidal Ukrainian Rebel Army – trenches shaped in the form of a triangle at the centre of the village as well as shelters. However, this proposition did not meet with the acceptance of the people of Hanaczow who did not believe that the Ukrainian attack would come, not wanting to abandon their homes and possessions. As a result of this refusal, it was decided that the defense posts will be placed on the outskirts of the village instead, which hindered the possible defense.
Soon, the danger became real – in October 1943 a group of Ukrainians ambushed in the woods a lieutenant of the Polish army (a pre-war teacher who was married to a Ukrainian woman), read aloud his “death sentence," and murdered him with a shot at the back of his head; his body was robbed. The lieutenant was killed despite the Polish army’s intelligence having warned of an ambush planned by the Ukrainians. In the early November of 1943 three armed Ukrainians were captured by the Polish army near Hanaczow, and were handed over to Germans who put them before the firing squad. The people of Hanaczow still refused to accept the defensive triangle proposed by the Polish army. In December there came news of yet more massacres perpetrated in nearby villages – among the brutally murdered were women and children. Hanaczow was attacked as late as February 2, 1944, on the feast day of Our Lady’s Purification [known in Poland as Our Lady of the Thunder Candle as She is invoked against thunderous tempests].
A few hours before the Ukrainian attack, the village’s defense forces were warned by the Polish army’s patrols that Ukrainian troops had been gathering in the woods south of the village. Around 9 p.m. nearly one thousand members of the Ukrainian Rebel Army surrounded Hanaczow and attacked it from multiple sides. The defenders suffered many casualties, and some of the houses were taken by the Ukrainians who murdered anyone they could get hold of. The defenseless were either killed with bayonets or slayed with axes. Fr. Wiktor was at the rectory which was one of the main points of defense, under heavy fire from both sides. After midnight, the Ukrainians retreated, having burnt down seventy buildings, and seeing Polish partisan troops hastening to the relief. Eighty-five (85) Poles were murdered. The school building was turned into a field hospital where about 100 wounded men were treated. The dead were buried together in one grave; Fr. Wiktor preached the funeral sermon.
After this first massacre, the people of Hanaczow finally agreed to the initial defense plan, concealed shelters were built, and the defense of key buildings strengthened, including the church building. It was believed that the next attack would come at Easter, even the Ukrainians themselves would spread the news of the coming destruction of the village. In the face of this danger, the curate, Fr. Gacek, evacuated some of the inhabitants, including the women, the children, and the sick.
Fr. Wiktor stayed at Hanaczow to be the people’s pastor, and, in the words of the local poet, “consoled the people so they do not lose heart”. He organized for his little flock the Holy Week ceremonies and gave practical advice in terms of self-defense.
The Hanaczow massacre survivors relate the following:
“Over a dozen days before the coming attack, Father Wiktor – the chaplain, summoned all the inhabitants for a meeting in the old rectory, with the curate in attendance. Father gave practical tips on how to defend oneself, and absolutely forbade any family gatherings in the Ukrainian villages nearby. He threatened the gossip mongers, snitches, and traitors with severe punishments, as they do on the war front. Finally, he ordered all parishioners to move every night to the center of the village [where the defense was laid], for the sake of their own safety and that of their children, and to the houses near the rectory and the church. This last order was not welcomed by all, but its rightness was soon to be validated in all extent by the second attack.”
On April 8, Holy Saturday, the Polish army’s advance party reported a few hundred Ukrainians gathering near the village. Watch was kept all day and all night but the attack did not come. On April 9, Easter Sunday, at 6:30 Fr. Wiktor celebrated Solemn High Mass. About one thousand Ukrainians attacked the village at midnight with flare missiles. Some of them managed to reach the church and tried to put it on fire with incendiary weapons. Women and children who took shelter in the barricaded church were comforted by Fr. Wiktor who led prayers, telling the people to hide behind the brick wall base in the attic. He would also give absolution and Holy Communion alongside the Curate and another Franciscan Father.
At last, on Easter Monday, at around 9 a.m. the enemy retreated for good. Those who witnessed the attack described having seen burnt cattle and the murdered , which included a pregnant lady with her belly ripped apart and a young girl with her breasts cut off. A wounded man managed to survive for he pretended to be already dead, but the Ukrainians stabbed to death his wife and five little children.
Most of the village was burnt down, except for the defense area, and so in the next days the remaining inhabitants were gradually evacuated, and they would be shot at on their way by the Ukrainians. A few dozen Polish soldiers stayed in Hanaczow, (as well as about 100 locals) along with Fr. Wiktor, and a group of Jews. Some of the people suffered from typhus fever.
Soon there came the final days of Hanaczow. The Ukrainians took advantage of a badly-organized series of acts of sabotage against the German army by the Polish army, and informed the Germans that Soviet and Jewish guerilla bands are stationed near Hanaczow. On May 2, 1944, at 4 a.m. the village was surrounded by SS troops, MPs, and Gestapo, armed with tanks and grenade launchers. Fr. Wiktor took care to put some of the inhabitants in the shelters, especially the wounded and the sick. The Germans started firing and setting the building ablaze.
Fr. Wiktor left the destroyed village, which once belonged to the Franciscan Order, as one among the last surviving residents. He rescued the Blessed Sacrament from the church. He managed to get to the Franciscan monastery in Lviv where he related the recent events. For his courage and sacrifice in the defense of Hanaczow he was decorated with the Cross of Valor and promoted to the rank of second lieutenant. He became chaplain for the Polish army and adopted his nom de guerre “Mroz” – his last name till the end of his courageous life as a true and faithful priest of Christ.
It is impossible to exhaust the life story of a priest like Fr. Wiktor Mroz in a 2,500-word post. He was a priest who showed truly heroic bravery and zeal for souls under some of the most horrible circumstances of life in a world ravaged by a war. It was a war of unheard of cruelty, and after all that he saw the One True Church being stripped of Her former glory and reduced to a tiny flock of Catholics scattered around the world.
As was the case with Fr. De Pauw, Fr. Mroz was one of those faithful European priests who, after having experienced the horrors of World War II, found a safe haven in the USA but chose to fight the good fight against the worst kind of enemies; the Modernists and their false religion from Hell. He heeded the words of Our Lord: “And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in Hell” (St. Matthew 10:28). May their souls rest in everlasting peace.