The November issue of St. Anthony Messenger magazine features an article written by Brian Jordan, OFM. It describes the bravery and love of Conventual Franciscan Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, who was canonized by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 10, 1982.
While imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp in July 1941, St. Maximilian offered his life for the life of a Polish Jew who was married and had a family. St. Maximilian died on August 14 that year.
“What many do not realize is that before his early death, St. Maximilian built a Franciscan friary in 1931 on the outskirts of Nagasaki, Japan,” Brian wrote. “On Aug. 9, 1945, this building escaped the atomic blast that severely damaged much of the city.”
Brian’s article follows the life of St. Maximilian, highlighting his personal experience visiting places the saint ministered, including another monastery St. Maximilian built on the outskirts of Warsaw, Poland, the monastery in Nagasaki, and the site where he died in Auschwitz.
“Throughout his life, St. Maximilian demonstrated beautifully that love is stronger than hatred and violence — and in the end will overcome these evils,” wrote Brian.
The article can be found on American Catholic’s website.
Brian is an adjunct professor and college chaplain at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lives at Our Lady of Peace Friary. The Brooklyn native is also an advocate for labor unions and for immigrants. He has worked closely with the New York City Central Labor Council on labor and immigration issues, and has ministered at two diverse parishes — St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md., and Holy Cross Parish in the Bronx, from which the Province withdrew in 2008.
Brian was the first friar in formation to be approved to attend summer school to learn Spanish in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where friars are still stationed today. For two years, he worked for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, now part of the Department of Homeland Security.
In 1999, he founded the Franciscan Immigration Center at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, which continues to minister to immigrants today. In 2008, he began the Holy Name Province Labor-Immigration Project to help the Catholic Church bridge the gap between labor unions and immigrant concerns in New York City.
After 9/11, he served as a chaplain at Ground Zero from September 2001 to June 2002. He and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, alongside other religious and political leaders, defended the right of Muslims to build a cultural center near the World Trade Center in September 2010.
Brian had been planning to run in the 2012 New York City Marathon before it was canceled in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He planned to raise $40,000 for the St. Francis College scholarship fund and to promote interfaith solidarity.
A photo of Brian comforting a worshipper at St. Thomas More Church in Rockaway Point, N.Y., on Sunday — the day the marathon had been scheduled — appeared in the Nov. 5 issue of the NY Daily News and the Norwalk Citizen.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.