Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
John of Kanty
Feast day: December 23
The people of Olkusz in Bohemia in 1431 had every reason to be
suspicious of their new pastor. They knew what a Cracow professor would
think of their small rural town. But even more insulting, their town was
once again being used as a dumping ground for a priest who was "in
John had indeed been kicked out of his university position -- unjustly.
Rivals who resented John's popularity with the students had cooked up a
false charge against him. John was not even allowed to appear at his own
hearing or testify in his own defense. So at age 41, he was shipped off
to be an apprentice pastor.
Certainly no one would have blamed John if he was furious at such
injustice. However, he was determined that his new parishioners would
not suffer because of what he happened to him.
But there was no overnight miracle waiting of him in Olkusz. He was
nervous and afraid of his new responsibilities. And, despite the energy
he put into his new job, the parishioners remained hostile. But John's
plan was very simple, and came not from the mind but from the heart. He
let his genuine interest and concern for these people show in everything
he did. Despite working for years without any sign of success, he was
very careful not to demonstrate impatience or anger. He knew that people
could never be bullied into love, so he gave them what he hoped they
would find in themselves.
After eight years, he was exonerated and transferred back to Cracow. He
had been so successful that these once-hostile people followed him
several miles down the road, begging him to stay.
For the rest of his life, he was professor of sacred Scripture at the
university. He was so well-liked that he was often invited to dinner
with nobility. Once, he was turned away at the door by a servant who
thought John's cassock was too frayed. John didn't argue but went home,
changed into a new cassock, and returned. During the meal, a servant
spilled a dish on John's new clothes. "No matter," he joked. "My clothes
deserve some dinner, too. If it hadn't been for them I wouldn't be here
Once John was sitting down to dinner when he saw a beggar walk by
outside. He jumped up immediately, ran out, and gave the beggar the food
in his bowl. He asked no questions, made no demands. He just saw someone
in need and helped with what he had.
John taught his students this philosophy again and again, "Fight all
error, but do it with good humor, patience, kindness, and love.
Harshness will damage your own soul and spoil the best cause."