Meet the Priest who helped St. Faustina spread the Divine Mercy devotion
As many Catholics are familiar with St. Faustina and her Diary, in which she recounts some private revelations she was given by Jesus Christ, and few are familiar with the priest who first believed her and was instrumental in spreading the message of Divine Mercy.
The priests name was Fr. Michael Sopocko, and he was assigned in 1933 to be a confessor at the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Vilnius. He would often meet Sister Faustina in the confessional, and from henceforth, his life was changed dramatically.
Before his arrival, St. Faustina has been receiving mystical visions of Jesus and no one believed her. And this became a heavy cross to bear and she prayed to God that someone would be sent to her to help sort through everything and to transmit the messages she was receiving.
In her Diary, Faustina wrote in how her prayer was answered.
Jesus had made a promise to me about an visible help here on earth, and a little while later I received it in Vilnius, in the person of Father Sopocko. I had already met him before coming to Vilnius, but thanks to an interior vision. So one day I saw him in our chapel between the altar and the confessional and suddenly, I heard a voice in my soul saying, This is the visible help for you on earth. He will help you carry out My will on earth. (Diary, 53)
In the Initial times, the heavenly visions of St. Faustina were difficult to believe. And even Sopocko was initially skeptical and did not give his full approval of them. He was worried that the visions were revealing a heretical teaching.
However, after Father Sopocko finished doing some more research into this concept of God’s Divine Mercy, he no longer had any doubts, as can be seen in a recollection he wrote years afterwards.
I started to search in the writings of the Fathers of the Church for a confirmation that this is the greatest of the attributes of God, as Sister Faustina had said, for I had found nothing on this subject in the works of more modern theologians. I was very pleased to find relative statements in St. Fulgentius, St. Ildephonse, and more still in St. Thomas and St. Augustine, who, in commenting on the Psalms, had plenty to say on Divine Mercy, calling it the greatest of God’s greatest attributes. And from henceforth, I had no serious doubts of the supernatural revelations of Sister Faustina.
Sopocko said his first sermon on Divine Mercy on Friday April 26, 1935, and he went further to reveal the first image of Divine Mercy painted by Eugene Kazimierowski on Sunday, April 28, 1935, which was the Second Sunday of Easter, the exact day Jesus pleaded to be named “Divine Mercy Sunday.”
For the remaining life of Sopocko, he spread the message of Divine Mercy, and his actions were placed in creating a firm foundation upon which others would build.
Jesus told St. Faustina how he believed Fr. Sopocko was a priest after his own heart.
Sopocko is a priest after My own Heart; his efforts are dearly to Me. Look, My daughter, that My will must be done and I shall do that, which I had promised you. Through Sopocko I spread comfort to suffering and careworn souls. Through him also, it pleased Me to proclaim the worship of My mercy. And through this work of mercy more souls will draw close to Me than before, even if he had kept offering absolution day and night for the rest of his life, but by so doing, he would have to labor only for as long as he lived; meanwhile, thanks to this work of mercy, he will be laboring till the end of the world. (Diary, 1256)
Fr. Sopocko was however, beatified on Sunday September 28, 2008, after Pope Benedict XVI approved a miracle through his intercession.