IGNATIUS KŁOPOTWOSKI (1866-1931)
Priest, Founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto
Ignatius Klopotowski was born on 20 July 1866 in Korzeniówka, Poland. He received from his parents a solid religious education as well as a love for his native Polish Homeland.
In 1883, Ignatius entered the Major Seminary of Lublin. On 5 July 1891, in the hands of Bishop Franciszek Jaczewski, he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Lublin.
Initial duties as a priest
Following priestly ordination, Fr Ignatius was appointed parochial vicar of the Conversion of St Paul Parish. In 1892 he was made chaplain of St Vincent's Hospital and began teaching at the Major Seminary; here, for 14 years, he taught sacred scripture, catechetics, homiletics, moral theology and canon law.
From 1892 to 1894 he served as vicar of the Cathedral of Lublin and then was appointed rector of the Church of St Stanislaus, where he provided assistance to the persecuted Greek Catholic faithful.
Fr Klopotowski was well aware of the living conditions of so many of his compatriots, who were immersed, as it were, in extreme material as well as moral misery, without education and employment.
Healing the wounds of society
In the face of such a tragic reality, the young priest found he could not remain indifferent and began founding numerous charitable institutions: an employment home in Lublin; a professional school; a home for the rehabilitation of troubled girls and women forced into prostitution; even homes for orphans and for the elderly.
With the help of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Immaculate, Fr Ignatius also founded a chain of rural schools; for this, however, he suffered repression on the part of the Russian Authorities.
Fr Klopotowski was also very concerned with providing spiritual assistance to the poorest and neediest. Already in the early years of his priesthood, he published books on the topics of prayer and spiritual brochures on many issues.
In 1905, he began publishing the magazine "Polak-Katolik" ("Polish-Cath-olic"), followed by weekly and monthly newspapers.
In 1908, Fr Ignatius transferred his editorial work to Warsaw in order to increase productivity and start new publications.
Founder, father, protector
To maintain and regulate such demanding editorial work, Fr Klopotowski founded the "Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto" in Warsaw on 31 July 1920, with the approval of the Apostolic Nuncio at the time, Archbishop Achille Ratti (the future Pope Pius XI).
To meet the needs of poor children and elderly women, he opened health centres and soup kitchens. The beloved priest was known as a "true father and protector of the orphaned".
Fr Ignatius Klopotowski died on 7 September 1931 and was buried in the Polish cemetery of Powazki.
The Congregation received recognition as a Congregation of Pontifical Right in 1971. Today, there are 24 houses and 220 Religious who make up the Order.