柳学文神父 遣使会波兰省区 Pawel Wierzbick Poland Province of the Congregation of the Mission
On October 16, 1928 the Superior General, Fr. François Verdier CM, told the Visitor of the Polish Province of the Congregation of the Mission, Fr. Joseph Kryska, about the possibility and the need of sending priests and brothers to the Apostolic Vicariate in Zhengding (Hebei). The first group of missionaries from the Polish Province was sent to China in 1929. It consisted of Fr. Ignatius Krauze (an experienced missionary, who had previously worked in Brazil), Fr. Anthony Gorski, three seminarians, Vaclav Chapla, Stanislaus Kotlinski, Francis Stawarski and Brother Stanislaus Fedzin. During the farewell ceremony in Krakow on November 3, 1929 Visitor Joseph Kryska said these memorable words: "Go where your lofty ideals bid you go - go and do not come back - unless as a relic of a martyr." Polish Vincentians took a ministry in the district of Shunde (Xingtai) formerly a part of the Vicariate of Bishop Frans Schraven, and, after 1932 also in Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province. The Visitor of the Polish Province hoped that one day the mission in Wenzhou would be entrusted to the Polish Province. The circumstances on the East Coast, however, did not permit the realization of this plan. Afterwards, some of the Polish confreres working in Wenzhou went and joined their compatriots in Shunde; the others went somewhere else or went back to Europe. In the years 1929-1949 the Polish Province sent altogether 40 missionaries to China.
Biography of Brother Ladislaus Prinz CM
Ladislaus (Władysław, Wladislaus,) Prinz (Princ, Prync) was born on the 26th of June 1909 in Lipinki Szlacheckie (Pomerania, Diocese of Chelmno, Culm) in Poland as the son of Joseph (Józef) Prinz and Veronica Wardin (Weronika Wardyń). His parents were married in 1887 in Pinczyn. Ladislaus had five brothers (Francis, John, Vincent, Joseph, Paul) and six sisters (Francisca, Veronica, Marianna, Helene, Leokadia, Agnes). A few of his siblings died very young. In 1928 Ladislaus entered the Congregation of the Mission and stayed as an aspirant at the Vincentian house in Kleparz, Cracow. On February 2, 1929 he began the Internal Seminary (novitiate) and took vows on February 11, 1931. From June 1931 till March 1932 he was assigned as a gardener at the Vincentian house in Pabianice. He wanted to become a missionary “ad gentes” so following this call he applied for the mission in China although he had no idea what that amounted to. He left Poland in the spring of 1932 with three Vincentian priests and another brother as the third group of missionaries to China. On June 11th he came to Shanghai and on July 7th he arrived in the town of Wenzhou, a part of the Vicariate of Ningbo, where Polish Vincentians were already present.
On his arrival he was somewhat disappointed because the reality was different from what he had imagined. It was a very difficult start for Brother Ladislaus. He could only speak Polish and some German. By profession he was a gardener but in his mission station there was no garden, and, moreover, the local vegetables were quite different from European ones and the Chinese way of cultivating them was also different. Under those circumstances he felt very useless, and began to doubt himself. During that time he often questioned his usefulness for the mission and purpose of staying in China. Yet since he was a man of prayer, he ultimately decided to stay and to learn the local language which was a tremendous challenge. His companion in Wenzhou, Fr. Pawel Kurtyka CM, wrote about the Chinese dialect spoken in Zhejiang Province: “the language is almost inhuman, from a different world, with sounds one has never heard, hard to repeat, and when one nevertheless does repeat them, no one understands. It nearly brings one on the verge of despair.” Yet, according to the same source Brother Ladislaus persevered and after a few years he was able to communicate well in Chinese and even could amuse others using Chinese.
Brother Ladislaus was a deeply religious man and in that way he made a deep impression on those who knew him. He used to do his meditation every morning in the chapel and was often seen in private prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament during the day in free moments. He was faithful to daily spiritual reading and weekly confession. He assisted all the priests by serving at the altar during the Mass regardless which priest was celebrating the Eucharist. He showed great respect to all the priests, both foreigners and Chinese, winning heartfelt affection of the Chinese. During each Mass he received Holy Communion with devotion and prayed with thankfulness afterwards. As to his private expenditures, few as they were, he felt uneasy about them because his activities in the mission did not produce any financial income to the community. He was willing to limit his material needs far below the basic ones, so that he was not a burden to the mission. He was a quiet person, inconspicuous and devoted.
Brother Ladislaus was aware that he came to China in order to evangelize the Chinese people, yet he was unable to do it in a direct way. Because of that he took advantage of any occasion to serve any Chinese person, with special dedication to the sick. Together with the Daughters of Charity he cared for the sick in the local hospital. When a sister could not go, he used to take her place. He was quickly at home with medicine and was completely able to fulfill all the duties of a nurse. He dealt respectfully with the poor and the sick and was very much loved by them. In 1936 Fr. Vaclav Shuniewicz, a Polish Vincentian from Shunde who was also a medical doctor, came for three weeks to Wenzhou in order to treat eye diseases and had Brother Ladislaus as an assistant. The Brother took this responsibility very seriously. He himself was found to have an eye infirmity and received suitable treatment, which was not free of pain and discomfort.
Because there was a huge demand for rosaries, Brother Ladislaus started manufacturing them in a large quantity from locally grown seeds. Besides, he went to the library to bind the books there. Later on he tried and succeeded in brewing beer according to his recipe; his beer became famous because people found it quenched their thirst on hot sunny days perfectly. For the purpose of Eucharistic celebration Brother learned from a Chinese professional in Ningbo how to make wine out of raisins. Furthermore he took care of the liturgical vestments; he knew how to cook and bake bread and he kept the house and priests’ rooms clean and tidy.
In the summer of 1935 Brother Ladislaus came down with malaria and it took almost one month at St. Mary’s Hospital in Shanghai to diagnose and treat it. He was never totally cured of it and later often suffered recurrent attacks. During the following months Brother felt weak. He became depressed because he could not do any work and was aware his sickness cost the mission money. He nevertheless realized that it was his own choice to come to China and he chose to bear the consequences. Once during an attack of high fever he said to Fr. Pawel Kurtyka: may at least my sickness be a source of graces from God for the Chinese.
His superiors in Wenzhou decided to send him to a better climate in the north of China, where after recovery he could find a suitable occupation. One possibility was for him to assist Doctor Shuniewicz as a male nurse. Wenzhou people were sad when Brother left.
In 1937 Brother Ladislaus traveled to Shunde in Hebei Province; he arrived there just a few days before the Sino-Japanese war broke out in the North. The Polish superiors decided to send the Brother to Bishop Frans Schraven in Zhengding where an Austrian Brother was supposed to teach him the art of vineyard cultivation and making wine. On October 9th of that year during his stay in Zhengding Brother Ladislaus together with Bishop Schraven, five foreign priests (including a Trappist monk), another Vincentian brother and a lay person were murdered by soldiers from the Japanese army; he was 28 years old.
According to Fr. Pawel Kurtyka Brother Ladislaus Prinz came to China led by his religious vocation to be a missionary. He sometimes spoke about martyrdom and wished it for himself, therefore he certainly faced death with the intention of offering his life to God for the love of the Chinese people.