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Pope appoints humble Polish priest as new Almoner

Tells Mgr Konrad Krajewski to serve the poor with 'a lot of imagination'

Pope appoints humble Polish priest as new Almoner

Mgr Konrad Krajewski, left, with Pope Francis

Gerard O'Connell, Vatican City
Vatican City

August 8, 2013

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Francis, the Pope of the Poor, last week continued his outreach to the poor and needy by appointing a humble Polish priest, Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, as his almoner, that is the one who will give alms or charity to the poor in his name. 

Though his nomination has gone largely unnoticed, it is not a simple bureaucratic appointment. Pope Francis has specifically chosen Mgr Konrad for this post to which he gives some considerable importance. He chose him because he had come to know, what was already well known throughout the Roman Curia, that for some years now this good priest from Lodz in Poland used to regularly distribute food to the poor and needy on the streets in the area around the Vatican. 

At the time of his appointment, Mgr Konrad was one of the papal masters of ceremonies (ceremoniere).  He studied in Rome in the 1990s and, not long afterwards, was called to work in the Vatican of Pope John Paul II, in the office for Papal Ceremonies then headed by Mgr Piero Marini. He retained that post under Benedict XVI and Francis, until his recent promotion.

Mgr Konrad provided some interesting background to his nomination in an interview with the Polish Catholic daily paper, Nasz Dziennik, on August 4.

He revealed that on the flight to the World Youth Day in Rio with Pope Francis he kept thinking all the time about this appointment.  It seems that Francis had informed him of his decision before they left Rome. 

The Polish prelate said he had been “inspired by Mother Teresa”, at whose beatification he had assisted, to begin this work of feeding the poor and needy. He did not do this alone; he did so with the Albertine Sisters, who work with the Swiss Guards, and with the Presentation Sisters who work in the Vatican’s warehouse.

“We collect the food that is left over from the canteen or dining hall of the Swiss Guards [more than 100 guards] and the food that is left over from the Pope’s table, and take it to the poor and needy on the streets adjacent to the Vatican”, he said.

“We are not social workers. They are better than us at this, they are professionals”, he stated. “We do this in order to touch Christ, who is on the street”.  He recalled that “Mother Teresa had said he who touches the needy touches Christ”. Pope Francis says this too. 

He confessed that he did not know who told the Pope about this work, but he knew for sure. “My nomination will remain a mystery!” he added.

He revealed that when Pope Francis informed him that he was appointing him as his almoner, he told him, “There are many examples of people who are able to provide charity, so you should learn from them, and do this work with a lot of imagination!”

In appointing him as Almoner, the Pope also raised him to the dignity of archbishop, and Mgr Konrad chose the word “Mercy” (Misericordia) as his Episcopal motto ‘because it includes everything’.

Full story: Pope tells Almoner: 'Do this work with a lot of imagination'

Source: Vatican Insider

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