Deacon Stewart Herman of Assumption B.V.M., Bethlehem, blessed a statue of St. Maximillian Kolbe in its new home at St. Michael the Archangel Middle School, Bethlehem.
The statue, a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Carfagno who were present at the Sep. 13 blessing, was relocated from Kolbe Academy, a Catholic recovery high school that closed after the 2022-23 school year.
Before blessing the statue and the entire St. Michael the Archangel campus, Deacon Herman read from St. Luke’s account of the Beatitudes and reflected on the example of the Franciscan friar and martyr who offered his life for a fellow prisoner in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.
At age 12, Kolbe “experienced a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary who carried two crowns, a white one and a red one,” said Deacon Herman. “The white one meant that he would live a life of purity. The red one meant that he would be a martyr. Mary asked him which he wanted. He said he would take both.”
Deacon Herman also told the students about Kolbe’s lesser known work in Catholic publishing and as a missionary in China, India, and Japan. He noted that the monastery Kolbe founded in Nagasaki withstood the 1945 atomic bombing of the city by the United States and is still central to the Catholic faith in Japan.
Kolbe was killed by lethal injection of phenol and is the patron saint of chemical addictions.
Deacon Herman noted that social media has been found to rewire the brain causing a chemical, neurological change.
“How many of you have one of these?” he asked the students while holding up his cell phone. “Addiction to social media is now recognized as a disease. The makers of the apps we all know and love purposely make them as addictive as possible so that we will be drawn back to them time and time again,” he said, adding “When you see the statue of St. Maximillian, think about how much time you spend in front of screens.”
Photo: Students of St. Michael the Archangel School pose with Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Carfagno, donors who provided the statue of St. Maximillian Kolbe. The boys pictured all have names containing “Max,” while the girls have names related to the Blessed Virgin Mary.