Anthony Kowalczyk was born June 4, 1866 in Dzierzanow, Poland. His parents, Ignatius and Lucy, were devout Catholics. After apprenticing in Poland, he traveled to Germany to pursue work as a blacksmith. It was here that he became acquainted with the work of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and joined them as a religious brother. He was anxious to work in the missions and came to Canada in 1896.
Posted to Lac-la-Biche, he had a terrible accident at the mission saw mill. His hand was caught in a pulley; he had to withstand a 120 mile journey by horse and buggy to Edmonton, over terrible roads, to receive treatment. He endured the journey without complaint but by the time he reached Edmonton, six days after the accident, gangrene had set in and the arm had to be amputated. The surgery took place without anesthetics; Brother Anthony meditated on his Oblate cross and gave no indication of being in pain.
After his convalescence at St. Albert, Brother Anthony moved to Saint Paul-of-the-Metis. Here he worked with the Indian and Metis, praying with them and helping them with their worldly needs.
Brother Anthony's longest posting was at St. John's College in Edmonton where he served from 1911 to 1947. To the students and staff, he was "Brother Ave", known for his devotion and love to Mary, our Blessed Mother. When students requested his prayers during examinations, he would remind them to say an "Ave" (Hail Mary). When the washing machine refused to work, he would drop to his knees, say an "Ave" and the machine would begin working. He spent long hours, after his many jobs at the College, in prayer before the blessed sacrament.
Brother Anthony is beloved by all. He was a humble, devout and obedient brother, truly living his religious vows.
As an immigrant, Brother Anthony experienced loneliness, difficulty with language, alienation in a new culture. It is hoped that one day, Brother Anthony Kowalczyk will be named patron saint of immigrants throughout the world.
Brother Anthony died July 10, 1947, and hopefully will one day be canonized. On March 27, 2013, Brother Anthony moved a step closer to sainthood, when Pope Francis, S.J. recognized him with heroic virtues, granting the title of “venerable”. He is eligible for beatification; the final stage before canonization, if a miracle can be attributed to his intercession.
Prayer to Brother Anthony has already received remarkable results. Turn to Brother Anthony with all of your needs, great and small. Ask him, through your prayers, in your own words or those given below, to intercede with our Heavenly Father on your behalf. In his life, Brother Anthony helped many; in his death, with your prayer, he will help you too.
We praise you, Lord and Father, who in a wonderful way have led Brother Anthony along the path of your holy will. You gave him strength to imitate Jesus Christ in carrying faithfully his many crosses and fulfilling his responsibilities. I praise you, Lord, for his heroic faith and trust, which have opened the treasures of your goodness. Grant me, O Lord, the grace . . . which I beg through the intercession of your Servant, Anthony. May his sanctity be confirmed and may I be ever more faithful in fulfilling your Holy Will.
Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be...
[Information provided by the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.]
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