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"I'll leave my country but not my congregation."
Clement Maria Hofbauer
(1) St. Clement HOFBAUER, The Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province; <http://www.redemptorists.net/saints-clement.cfm>;
(2) Clemens Maria Hofbauer; Wikipedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clemens_Maria_Hofbauer ;
(3) St. Clements Hofbauer; Redemptorist Spirituality.Net; <http://www.redemptoristspirituality.net/eng2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=375&Itemid=111>
On another occasion, legend has it that he went begging to a local pub. When Hofbauer asked for a donation, one of the patrons scornfully spat beer into Hofbauer's face. Wiping off the beer, he responded, "That was for me. Now what do you have for my boys?" The men in the bar were so astounded by the response that they gave Hofbauer more than 100 silver coins. When the Redemptorists first opened their church they preached to empty benches. The people had many preoccupations that kept them away from God, and they found it hard to put their trust in these foreign priests. It took several years for the Redemptorists to gain the trust of the people, but in time St. Benno's became the thriving center of the Catholic Church in Warsaw(2).
In September 1808, after being exiled from Poland, Hofbauer reached Vienna. He remained there until his death almost 13 years later. In 1809, when the forces of Napoleon attacked Vienna, Hofbauer worked as a hospital chaplain caring for the many wounded soldiers. Later in Vienna, Hofbauer again found himself under attack, and for a short time was prohibited from preaching. Then he was threatened with expulsion because he had been communicating with his Redemptorist Superior General in Rome. A year before his death he was faced with the choice of either abandoning his congregation or leaving his homeland, Austria. He did not hesitate a moment, "I'll leave my country but not my congregation."(3). Before the expulsion could become official, Emperor Franz of Austria would have to sign it. When the Emperor learned how greatly the work of Hofbauer was appreciated, he rewarded Hofbauer for his years of dedicated service by allowing him to start a Redemptorist foundation in Austria. So, instead of a writ of expulsion, Hofbauer got an audience with Emperor Franz. A church was selected and refurbished to become the first Redemptorist foundation in Austria. It was to be started without Hofbauer, however. He became ill in early March 1820, and died on March 15th of that year. Hofbauer was beatified on January 29, 1888, by Pope Leo XIII. He was canonized a saint of the Catholic Church on May 20, 1909, by Pope Pius X.
On their journey to Poland, the two new Redemptorist priests were joined by Peter Kunzmann, a fellow baker. He became the first Redemptorist lay brother from outside Italy. Together they arrived in Warsaw with no money; Hofbauer had given the last three silver coins to beggars along the way. They met with the apostolic delegate, Archbishop Saluzzo, who put them in charge of St. Benno's Church to work with the German-speaking people of Warsaw. When Hofbauer saw a homeless boy on the street, he brought him to the rectory, cleaned him up, fed him, and then taught him a trade and instructed him in the Christian way of life. When the number of boys grew too large for the rectory, Hofbauer opened the Child Jesus Refuge for his homeless boys. To keep the boys fed and clothed, he had to beg constantly. He did so unashamedly. Going into a bakery to buy a loaf of bread he came upon a master baker without an assistant. Hofbauer spent the day working at the dough trough and the oven, using all his old baking skills. He got bread for his boys that day and for many days to come.
(1751 - 1820; Feast Day: March 15th)
St. Clement Hofbauer was born in Tasswitz, Moravia (now the Czech Republic) on December 26, 1751. In his early youth, after the death of his father, he worked as an apprentice baker. Having become a servant in the Norbertine Abbey at Klosterbruck, he was able to follow the call to the priesthood by completing first his secondary schooling and then his catechetical, philosophical, and theological studies in Vienna, Austria. During this time he made yearly pilgrimages to Rome, where he encountered the Redemptorists. On October 24, 1784, with his friend Thaddeus Hübl, Clement entered the Redemptorist Congregation. Both professed religious vows on March 19, 1785, and were ordained priests on March 29(1). A few months after their ordination the two Germanic Redemptorists were summoned by their Superior General, Father de Paola. They were told to return to their homeland across the Alps and establish the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in northern Europe.