The “hands” of Pope Francis in the past two years have been those of Archbishop Konrad Krajewski. He is the man the Pope has entrusted with carrying out acts of charity toward the poor of Rome. For the quiet, generous way Krajewski has carried out this important work, we are pleased to name him one of our “Top Ten” persons of 2014.
Konrad Krajewski, born on November 25, 1963, is a Polish archbishop of the Catholic Church. He was a papal master of ceremonies from 1998 to 2013. In 2013 he was appointed Papal Almoner.
Krajewski was born in Łódź, Poland. In 1982 he entered the diocesan seminary of Łódź and earned a degree in theology from the Catholic University of Lublin. He was ordained a priest on June 11, 1988. He worked in the diocese for two years in pastoral work.
In 1990, Krajewski was sent to Rome to continue his studies at the Liturgical Institute of St. Anselmo. On March 5, 1993 he obtained his Licentiate in Sacred Liturgy.
Krajewski earned a Doctorate in Theology from the Angelicum in 1995 with a dissertation on “Episcopal Ordination in the Reform of Vatican II.” During those years in Rome, Krajewski collaborated with the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.
He returned to his diocese in 1995, and served as master of ceremonies for the archbishop as well as teaching liturgy at the seminary and to the Franciscans and Salesians.
In 1998 he returned to Rome to work in the Pope’s Office of Liturgical Celebrations. On May 12, 1999, he was appointed a Papal Master of Ceremonies by Pope John Paul II.
In 2013, Pope Francis appointed him Almoner of His Holiness and at the same time Titular Archbishop of Beneventum (succeeding Manuel Monteiro de Castro in this last function).
He was consecrated on September 17, 2013 by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello with Archbishop Piero Marini and Bishop Władysław Ziólek acting as co-consecrators. Pope Francis attended the consecration.
The almoner’s duties are twofold: carrying out acts of charity and raising the money to fund them.
Krajewski’s office funds its work by papal blessings on parchment with a photograph of the Pope, which the faithful can obtain for a particular occasion — say a wedding, baptism or priestly ordination — with the name of the recipient and an apostolic blessing written in calligraphy. The parchments range from €13 (US$17) to €25 (US$33) apiece, plus shipping. All proceeds go directly to the works of charity. In 2012, the office spent 1 million Euro (US$1.4 million) on 6,500 requests for help.
Krajewski has described how Francis has redefined the little-known office of Papal Almoner and explained the true meaning of giving.
“The Holy Father,” he said, “told me at the beginning: ‘You can sell your desk. You don’t need it. You need to get out of the Vatican. Don’t wait for people to come ringing. You need to go out and look for the poor.’”
Krajewski gets his marching orders each morning: A Vatican gendarme goes from the Vatican guesthouse where Francis lives to Krajewski’s office across the Vatican Gardens, bringing a bundle of letters that the Pope has received from the faithful asking for help.
On the top of each letter, Francis might write “You know what to do” or “Go find them” or “Go talk to them.”
And so “Don Corrado,” as he likes to be called, hits the streets.
Archbishop Krajewski has visited homes for the elderly in the name of the Pope and writes checks to the needy in the name of the Pope. He traveled to the island of Lampedusa in the name of the Pope after a migrant boat capsized.
Archbishop Krajewski spent four days on Lampedusa, bringing 1,600 phone cards so the survivors could call loved ones back home in Eritrea to let them know they had made it. He also prayed with police divers as they worked to raise the dead from the sea floor.