BLESSED EDWARD POPPE (1890-1924), priest
Today, the Church honors Blessed Edward Poppe, who lived a very humble life and was a true servant to the poor, bringing God’s Merciful Love to countless people in need.
Edward was born on December 18, 1890 in Moerzeke, Belgium, to a baker’s family of modest means. From his mother, he learned generosity and a devotion to prayer; and from his father a dedication to work and a love of the poor.
He was known as a brilliant student, and, in May 1909, Edward decided to become a priest to serve the needs of the poor. As a seminarian, he was distinguished for his desire to fulfill the will of God perfectly in both his academic and spiritual formation.
After his ordination in 1916, he was assigned as a curate (associate pastor) to a working-class parish in Ghent, Belgium. His special concern was for children, the poor and the dying. Leading a life of great personal poverty, he devoted particular attention to catechesis and founded Eucharistic associations, and was very concerned over the increasing secularization of society.
For reasons of health, he was transferred to the rural area of Moerzeke where he was born and raised, and was appointed rector of a religious community from 1918-1922. They would be, for Father Edward, four years of contemplation and study, half of which were spent in bed because of his poor health.
He began writing about the problems affecting the people of Belgium – Marxism, secularism and materialism. He wrote 10 short works, over 284 articles and thousands of letters. His visit in 1920 to the tomb of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux had a profound impact upon his spiritual life. It was from that point that her “little way” became his way too. He organized teachers in an evangelization campaign, and his home became a center of organization, prayer and spiritual rebirth.
In October 1922, Father Edward was sent to Leopoldsburg to serve as spiritual director to clerics fulfilling their military service. During these last 15 months of active ministry, he was happy to share his message not only with future priests but with countless people who were touched by his words and writings.
Father Edward suffered a heart attack in January 1924, and died of a stroke only six months later on June 10th at the age of thirty-three with his eyes fixed on the image of the Sacred Heart and on the Merciful Love to which he had totally entrusted himself.
He was beatified as Blessed Edward Joannes Maria Poppe on October 3, 1999 by Pope St. John Paul II.
We commemorate his feastday on June 10.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, catholicfire.blogspot.com and ewtn.com/library)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ pastor)
“Lord God, You gave Your Blessed Edward the Spirit of Truth and Love to shepherd Your people. May we honor him on this feast, learn from his example and be helped by his prayers.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”