Matulaitis-Matulewicz, Jurgis, Bl.

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In Polish his name is Jerzy Matulewicz; superior general of the marian fathers; b. April 13, 1871, Lugine, Lithuania; d. Jan. 24, 1927, Kaunas, Lithuania.

Matulaitis completed his philosophical and theological studies at Kielce and Warsaw seminaries and at the Catholic Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he was ordained Nov. 25, 1898. He continued his studies at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) to earn his doctorate in sacred theology "praeclarissime" (1902) for his dissertation Doctrina russorum de iustitia originali. After two years as professor of Latin and Canon Law at the Kielce seminary, he went to Warsaw, where he pioneered the Catholic movement for social betterment among the workers. In 1907 he was nominated to the faculty of the Catholic Academy of St. Petersburg as professor of Sociology and later of Dogmatic Theology.

In 1909, while still professor and vice rector of the Academy, with the permission of Pope St. Pius X, he undertook the clandestine reform of the Order of Marians of the Immaculate Conception (Marian Fathers), which had been founded in 1673 by Stanislaus papczÝnski. It was suppressed in 1864 by the Russian Czarist Government, and reduced in 1909 to a single member. Dispensed from the required novitiate, Matulaitis secretly entered the order and adapted it to the needs of the Church in modern times. He composed new constitutions and instructions to govern and direct the life and activity of the congregation, which he served as superior general from 1911 until his death. In 1913 he visited the U.S. and established the first Marian house at Chicago.

In 1918 he was nominated by Pope Benedict XV to the vast and troubled Diocese of Vilnius, which he governed for seven years. In 1925 he was elevated to the rank of titular archbishop and named by Pius XI as apostolic visitator to Lithuania in order to establish an ecclesiastical province and to negotiate a concordat between the Lithuanian government and the Holy See. In addition to being responsible for the renewal of the Congregation of Marian Fathers, he wrote constitutions for some seven other religious congregations. In Lithuania he founded the Congregation of Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, and in Byelorussia, the Congregation of Servants of the Sacred Heart. He died in 1927, and in 1934, his body was translated from Kaunas cathedral to the Marianist church of Marijampolér (where he had been baptized), now a national shrine. He was beatified by John Paul II June 28, 1987, the 600th anniversary of the "baptism" of Lithuania (Apostolic Letter, June 5, 1987).

Feast: Jan. 27 (Marianists); July 12 (Lithuania).

Bibliography: v. cusumano, Innamorato della Chiesa (Milan 1962). t. gÓrski and z. proczek, Rozmilowany w Kosciele: blogoslawiony arcybiskup Jerzy Matulewicz (Warsaw 1987). a. kucas, Archbishop George Matulaitis, tr. and ed. s. c. gaucias (Chicago 1981). c. a. matulaitis, A Modern Apostle (Chicago 1955). s. matulis, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 2d. ed., 7:183. L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed., 27 (1987): 67.

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