Feast Day of Blessed Anthony Leszczewicz
Blessed Anthony Leszczewicz was born on September 30, 1890, in the parish of Wojstom, in the diocese of Vilnius. In 1909, he entered the only existing Catholic Seminary in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was ordained a priest on April 13, 1914. For a year, he was vicar in Irkutsk, Siberia, then for two years in Czyt.
From 1920, he worked in Harbin, Manchuria, in the Polish parish of St. Stanislaus. He taught religion and Latin in Russian and Polish schools. In 1924, he was appointed pastor of the new parish of St. Josaphat for the Poles. He saw to the construction of the church and rectory. He opened a day nursery and a school for poor children. He also assisted the needy.
Leaving Harbin in 1937, he traveled via Tokyo and Rome, to Poland, where he entered the Congregation of Marians. After a year of novitiate, he made his profession of religious vows on June 13, 1939.
In accordance with his desire, he was sent to the Marian house in Druja in the region of Vilnius, where he dedicated himself to pastoral work, house management, and teaching in the school. In September of 1939, Druja was occupied by the Bolsheviks, and, in 1941, by the Germans.
Soon after, he was appointed superior of the mission beyond the river Dzwina, on territories taken over by the Soviet Union. There he undertook the work of evangelization together with a group of Marian priests and Sisters of the Servants of Jesus in the Eucharist.
During a punitive expedition against partisan activity, he voluntarily remained with the faithful, and together with them was burned by the Nazis in Rosica on February 17, 1943.
Blessed Anthony was a priest full of zeal, ever eager to serve others. He was also well-liked and respected by all. He is remembered, above all, for laying down his life for his flock in Rosica. That heroic witness will inspire future generations of Marians and the laity.
This heroic Marian was beatified in Warsaw, Poland, by Pope John Paul II on June 13, 1999.
Blessed Anthony, pray for us.