Polish credit union supporters have approached Catholic Church authorities about possibly naming Franciszek Stefczyk, an early credit union organizer, a saint.
Stefczyk taught school in the Polish countryside and is credited with starting Poland's first credit unions in the early 20th century, none of which survived World War II and the subsequent Soviet dominated period.
"Dr. Stefczyk, who has been referred to as the ‘Polish Raiffeisen,' was an ardent Christian, a great Polish patriot and a pioneer of rural cooperative credit unions," said Janusz Ossowski, president of Poland's Cooperative Research Institute. "He was a person of wonderful qualities of spirit and mind whose entire life bears testimony to the belief that the rules of business can be reconciled by the Gospel if those rules are based on true values and the idea of helping one's neighbor."
Beatification, often years in the making, is based on specific criteria established by the Roman Catholic Church. In December, World Council First Vice Chair Grzegorz Bierecki, president and CEO of the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions and a senator in Poland's parliament, nominated Stefczyk for beatification to the Most Rev. Mieczysław Mokrzycki, archbishop of Lvov. Mokrzycki accepted the request, expressed his support and pledged to take further action based on the church's canonization laws.
"Franciszek Stefczyk was an eminent personality, setting the example for Poles," Bierecki said. "He was a man who, through his personal example, showed how the Gospel can be put into practice, and he deserves canonization."