Blessed Father Scoutmaster

Stephen Vincent Frelichowski


"I am not the man I should be and as I would like to be; I do not really want to be such a person. I am writing these words in the deepest depression of my spirit. And I want to shake off that state, to tear myself free to become a useful man. With my own power I will not achieve this. In deepest humility I kneel before you, God. I fully realize my nothingness and imperfection.

I appeal to you, who created me such as I am, to lead me. God, free me of the state I am in today. I want to be a different person from what I am now. I want to be a true scout, to act in life as my intelligence and my conscience demand. Give me your grace. I want to cooperate with it and in the scout’s way, to rise from my spiritual decline. Give me the sense of worth, but not that illusory one. I want to develop true virtue in myself. God, I entirely commend myself into your hands. Let me rise step by step.

St. George help me overcome myself.”

/Diary, 19.6.1935/

Stephen Vincent Frelichowski was born on 22 January 1913 at Chelmza in today’s Torun diocese. His personality and Christian outlook was formed through the example of the parents, the love of his sister and brother, and finally from the age of nine by service at the Lord’s Altar. These qualities were continued and developed further also in the Scouting and Marian Sodality. His lively disposition and a keen interest in people and in the world as a whole (not a sentence).

After he had left primary school, Vincent continued education at a boy's high school, where on March 1927 he joined to IInd Gymnasium Chelmza Scout Troop, that held the name of Zawisza Czarny. Three months later he was accepted to promise and took the Scout Oath on 26th June 1927 and received the Scout Cross. He was endowed with the ability of leadership and of undertaking new activities. In the IInd Troop of Chelmza he was the scout leader of the group „Foxes”. Then he was given the function of Troop Chief Assistant and finally Scoutmaster of the whole troop until he entered the Seminary.

The reflections in his Diary testify to his sense of responsibility and concern about the development of the scout troop. He developed and presented a three-year program of moral and social formation and education of scouts. He considered that such activity would make it possible to educate a good scout and citizen aware of his duties to God and Homeland.

After entering the seminarist formation at the High Seminary of Pelplin Diocese he started the service as member and president (1933-1936) of the Senior Scout Seminary Circle. Since 1933 he had acted as an informal school troop leader. He often took part in scout rallies, gave talks and presentations, conducted singing at scout evening parties. He participated in camps and organized the expedition on the National Scout Jamboree in 1935 in Spala. In 194 he finished instructor’s „regular scoutmaster” course and was honored with instructor grade of regular scoutmaster (podharcmistrz).

On 14 March 1937 he was ordained. First he was chaplain to bishop Stanislaus Adalbert Okoniewski. Later he was appointed curate of the Assumption of Virgin Mary Church in Torun. In 1938 he was incorporated into the Pomeranian Troop Command as Head Senior Scout Section and chaplain to the Pomeranian Scout Region. He was also on the editorial staff of the bulletin "Zew Starszoharcerski” ("Senior Scout Call”).

As a Scout Chaplain his particular concern was that all who attended Mass entered fully into the Liturgy. He was especially devoted to working with children and young people, took care of the sick, was involved in mission-aid and organized the parish press.

After the occupation of Torun by the Hitlerite troops he was arrested on 18 October 1939. He was at first detained in Torun VII Fort; then he passed along the martyr’s road through the concentration camps of Stutthof, Sachsenhausen, Dachau. There he experienced hunger, pain, humiliation, physical and moral torture. But there was the place of final flourishing his service and all those beloved by The God. As a prisoner he put his life in God’s hands. He even found enough strength to serve his fellow-prisoners bringing them priestly comfort. He initiated the common prayer and sacramental service. He encouraged fellow priests to serve to fellow prisoners. He willingly shared his meager food rations and he was always ready to devote his time even endangering his life. He caught typhus when voluntarily undertaking service on behalf of his sick fellow prisoners. He died a martyr’s death on 23 February 1945.

On 7 June 1999 in Torun John Paul II during his pilgrimage to the Motherland proclaimed Fr. Frelichowski beatified.

Words of Holy Father John Paul II on 7 June 1999:

"We receive with great gratitude the life testimony of Blessed Vincent Frelichowski, contemporary hero, priest and man of peace as a call for our generation. I particularly desire to entrust this gift of beatification to the Church of Torun that she may guard and propagate the memory of God’s great deeds, which were accomplished in the priest’s brief life. I entrust this gift first of all to the priests of the diocese and to all Polish scouts with whom the newly beatified was deeply associated. May he be your patron, teacher in greatness of soul and advocate of peace and reconciliation.”