Memorial : 29 January
Bronislao Markiewicz was born on 13 July 1842 in Pruchnik, Poland, the sixth of 11 children to John Markiewicz and Marianna Gryziecka.
Although he received a solid religious formation from his parents, he lived through a deep spiritual crisis during his high school years in Przemyśl, caused by an anti-religious climate that existed in the school.
Calm after the storm
When he finally emerged from this period of unrest, he experienced a newfound peace and serenity, and decided to dedicate his entire life to the service of others.
Shortly thereafter, Bronislao felt called to the priesthood, and in 1863 he entered the Seminary of Przemyśl .
He was ordained a priest on 15 September 1867 and began to serve as parochial vicar in the Parish of Harta and at the Cathedral of Przemyśl. During this time, he studied pedagogy, philosophy and history at the Universities of Leopoli and of Krakow, sensing that God wished him to gain more experience to work with youth.
'Call within a call'
In 1875 he was appointed as parish priest at Gac, and in 1877 at Błażowa. He also taught pastoral theology at the Major Seminary of Przemyśl in 1882.
Amid all this activity, Fr Markiewicz perceived a "call within a call", and believed that he was called to the Religious life.
In November 1885 he left for Italy and joined the Salesians. And in the hands of St John Bosco, the Salesians' Founder, he professed his religious vows on 25 March 1887.
As a Salesian Fr Markiewicz carried out the various tasks assigned to him by his superiors, striving to accomplish them with dedication and zeal. Due to the change of climate and his austere lifestyle, however, he fell gravely ill in 1889 and nearly died.
But he eventually did recover and convalesced in Italy until 23 March 1892. With the permission of his superiors, he returned to Poland where he was assigned a parish at Miejsce Piastowe in Przemyśl .
'Temperance and Work'
In addition to his pastoral work, Fr Markiewicz dedicated himself to the formation of poor and orphaned youth in the spirit of St John Bosco. He opened an institute to provide them with material and spiritual support and to qualify them to work, preparing them for life by means of professional formation in the schools located near the institute itself.
To carry on his work, he left the Salesians in 1897 with the intention of establishing a new Religious family — always with the spirit of St John Bosco, but with special attention to the needs of the poor in Galizia.
The new Community, which he called Temperance and Work, focused on educating abandoned children and youth. As the Community grew, Fr Markiewicz patiently awaited ecclesiastical approval.
At Miejsce Piastowe he offered a home and formation to hundreds of children. In August 1903 he opened a new house in Pawlikowice, near Krakow, where more than 400 orphans received spiritual and professional formation.
His total dedication to children, heroic self-denial and the enormous amount of work he accomplished so quickly exhausted his strength, which was already weakened by his illness in Italy. All of this led rather rapidly to the end of his earthly pilgrimage, and Fr Bronislao Markiewicz died on 29 January 1912 at the age of 69.
The community he founded, known today as the Congregation of St Michael the Archangel (commonly known as the "Michaelites"), received ecclesiastical approval after his death: the male branch in 1921 and the female branch in 1928.
These institutes carry on their apostolate in parishes, popular missions, retreats, editorial activities, several shrines and vocational work in many countries: Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Canada, New Guinea, Argentina, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic and the Dutch Antilles.