Novena, Fourth Week

The words of today’s Gospel will show us the strength of the growth of the mustard grain.

Such a grain of mustard seed became the priestly ordination of the Servant of God, Father John Schneider, which he received through the ministry of Cardinal Melchior von Diepenbrocka.

The shepherd of the Wrocław diocese from the mid-19th century wanted a religious revival in the Silesian region. He wanted to build the Kingdom of God on the testimony of the lives of people consecrated to God. In his sermon before ordaining them to the priesthood, he encouraged the  neo-priests of the year of ordination in 1849, that, following the example of St. John the Baptist, with their purity and fidelity to their priestly vocation, confirmed the Word of God that they preached in the pulpits.

Cardinal Diepenbrock greatly appreciated his priests. He wanted them to multiply their spiritual goods together with religious people. For his ministry in Silesia, deprived of all monasteries after the Napoleonic Wars, Borromeo Sisters, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Hospital Franciscan Sisters, Sisters of Mercy of St. Vincent de Paul, now the Daughters of Charity, and on St. Anne, the Franciscans settled again.

Servant of God Fr. John Schneider celebrated his first mass after  his ordination on July 2, 1849. Before the reform of the liturgical calendar, this day was the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He did not celebrate his first day Holy Mass in his home parish in Rudziczce, because the parish priest, Father Antoni Hoffmann, his benefactor, died suddenly in 1847, so before John Schneider joined the seminary the parish in Rudziczce was then managed by an administrator, unknown to him.

At the site of the first Mass he chose the Marian chapel behind the presbytery of the Wrocław cathedral. From the main altar of the chapel, the Mother of God looked at the neo-presbyter as she rose to heaven. The ceremony was very modest. It was attended by the relatives, the father of the first officer and his two sisters with their families. Sermon during Holy Mass was delivered by his compatriot five years older, ordained, Fr. John Klein, vicar from Ścinawy.

The rector of the Wrocław Alumnate, Father Józef Sauer, came from the parish of St. Nicholas in Wiązów, and asked the Order of the Diocese to give his family parish a good chaplain. And the fate fell on fr. John. In the mid-nineteenth century, the parish of Wiązów had about 3,500 believers. In the town, many girls worked in a cigar factory. They often fell into all sorts of addictions and bad associations. Father John Schneider gathered them when they had free time, on Saturdays and Sundays, in the parish hall. He took care of their fair entertainment and deepened their religious and moral knowledge. He also took in a large number of maidservants who worked on estates in fifteen rural settlements belonging to the parish of Wiązów. Young girls financially dependent on their employers, including a large group of young ladies, were at risk of demoralization. Fr. John Schneider wanted to sensitize them to the matters of sacramental life, cultivating prayer and respecting one’s own girlhood.

Together with his parish priest, Father Francis Elpelt, with whom he understood well, he met regularly with parents and guardians of school children. He spoke with them about the moral dangers to which young people grow up. He collaborated with the local conductor of the parish choir, encouraging talented young singers to participate in rehearsals and the preparation of services in the parish church.

After two years of work in Wiązów, Fr. John Schneider was transferred on September 9, 1851. as a vicar to work in the parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Piasek Island in Wrocław

Sr.M. Elżbieta Cińcio