What we can all learn from St Maximilian

Wednesday 14th August 2019

On the Feast Day of St Maximilian, we reflect on the life of St Maximilian and on what we can learn from his actions.

Love your neighbour

During World War Two, the friary in which St Maximilian lived in provided shelter for 3,000 Polish refugees. The friars shared everything they had with the refugees: feeding, clothing, caring for and housing them. The end of Kolbe’s life came in Auschwitz death camp, where he died after volunteering to take another man’s place in a starvation chamber.

Impacting the lives of others

St Maximilian did not stand up for what is right for the recognition, but his selflessness will have affected the lives of thousands of people. The refugees he helped, the prisoners of Auschwitz who felt a glimmer of hope after hearing of his kindness or even the man whose life he saved. That man, thirty years later, stood as a guest of the Pope at the ceremony at which Maximilian became a Saint.

The compassion which St Maximilian showed was never forgotten by those individuals and despite the years that have passed, his words remain as relevant as ever.

Responses from our diocese

It is all too easy to close your eyes to the suffering that is happening around us, but some extraordinary communities in the Diocese of Salford have been choosing to open their eyes, stand up and act.

One example of how they have done this is in their support of Community Sponsorship schemes.

In November 2016, St Monica’s parish in Flixton was the first Catholic parish welcome and resettle a Syrian family through a Community Sponsorship scheme.

The community at St Monica’s decided to show that they cared in an extraordinary way, beginning a domino effect by inspiring twelve further parishes to follow their lead.

While the community sponsorship scheme at St Monica’s is now completed, the bonds formed continue to grow and the group see each other as family.

The impact of the Community Sponsorship scheme has been clear: The family are safe and welcomed and the children have access to a good education and now have an exciting future ahead of them. Earlier this year, the family realised a lifelong dream and opened their own restaurant where they serve Middle Eastern food and give back to the local community.

What you can do

St Maximilian Kolbe made an extraordinary sacrifice, but sometimes standing up to say ‘I care’ can come in the smaller, ordinary gestures.  Whether you decide to volunteer in a community centre or sign a petition on an issue that matters to you, acting with compassion and refusing to be indifferent doesn’t have to be a bold statement, but is rarely forgotten by those your kindness touches.

Think about how you can stand up about an issue you’re passionate about and how you might be able to turn it into a positive and make a difference in your own way.

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