“I received many and great favors from the Saints but still greater favors from Holy Souls!” –St. Catherine of Bologna
In honor of the start of Lent, a penitential period of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, to prepare our hearts for Easter, I’d like to share a fascinating interview. Meet Dr. Brian Kiczek, who–with his wife, Esmeralda–has founded a special prayer ministry for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, called The Releasers.
This discussion should be considered personal witness only, but it includes recommended resources for further inquiry into this important topic. I hope you’ll check out this inspiring apostolate!
Dr. Kiczek, please tell us a little about yourself and your faith background.
Well, the story is about a long road back to Jesus. My wife and I were both raised Catholic and then fell away from the church slowly from our teenage years onward. I fell further than my wife, becoming an atheist for about five years or more. We met in college, and by that time, I was looking for answers that there was a meaning of life besides just living and then dying and becoming dust.
We got married in the Church, so that was helpful, but I was still not ready to return. However, Father Eric, who married us, reached out to me a few months later, and by then our marriage was already in trouble due to an unexpected surprise of an unplanned pregnancy. Through his prayers and caring, we both came back to the church. Once back in the church, we did not just fill the pews but became more and more on fire for souls. Now, after 17 years back in the church, our love for Jesus is greater than ever.
(Here is the full story of How Our Lady led us back to Jesus.)
Where did your interest in the Holy Souls begin?
The Holy Souls came into my life through the reading of a couple of TAN books on the subject. One is Read Me or Rue It, by Father Sullivan and the other is Purgatory Explained, by Father Schouppe [see below for links]. Both books helped me to understand how much the souls suffer in purgatory and need our prayers. Also, I understood how much they would return the favor through prayers for me, especially when they got to heaven. The thought of how powerful one would be once in heaven amazed me–and then to realize how thankful one would be to the one who helped free you from the fires that burn as hot as in hell.*
How has this interest affected your life and spirituality?
My primary interest is to help the poor souls in purgatory to be free from their pains and sufferings; however, those same souls have helped me more than I could ever imagine. Each day I grow more in God’s grace, and I am sure it is through their prayers and intercessions that I have received those graces. God is great through His angels and saints.
What inspired you to start The Releasers and how did you get started?
Well the story is a little sad, in the fact that it involved two of my brothers passing. My foster brother lived a pretty hard life, and while God’s grace was moving in His life before he passed, it was evident when he passed that he still needed prayers to make it out of purgatory. My wife and I both prayed for him very hard for several months, or longer. However, one day we both felt in our hearts that he was released. We both told each other and that confirmed our feelings on the matter. Since then, whenever I am in trouble and need special prayers, he is one that I pray to.
A few years after that, my older brother passed as well, and he also was in need of prayers after he died to be released. My wife felt his presence, and he asked for prayers. She felt like we needed to pray 1000 St. Gertrude Prayers to effect his release, and over the next day or two, we as a family prayed them all. Afterwards, we felt peace, and soon he was sending signs from above that he was in heaven. (Here is one story of a Vacation Planned in Heaven by him.)
After this, the idea of praying 1000 St. Gertrude prayers came into my mind to release someone special. However, that idea became too difficult to keep track of, so I just thought maybe 10 St. Gertrude prayers a day. Finally, my wife agreed to a simple idea to pray the St. Gertrude prayer as much as we could, whenever the Spirit moved us, and add the intention to our Rosaries and Masses for the Release of all the souls in purgatory. Once we completed the idea, I made some pictures and added [the program] to the Power of the Rosary Website that grows every day. God is on the Move!
Are you receiving feedback on the ways people are touched by your apostolate?
Well, the ministry is only a few months old, and already we are having hundreds of people sign up to help release souls in purgatory. Just yesterday, someone’s family member passed away, and I shared with him [about] the Releasers, and he was so happy to be able to help not only his family member but all the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
What are your goals and hopes for the future?
My goal and hope is that the whole world becomes Releasers and that purgatory would be constantly kept empty; since, if any soul needs to go there, so many prayers will be effected that they would be released immediately.
What resources do you recommend for learning more about the Holy Souls?
I have two favorite books on the subject. First, Read Me or Rue It, by Father Paul O’Sullivan. Here is a quote from it:
“As there is no hunger, no thirst, no poverty, no need, no pain, no suffering to compare with what the Souls in Purgatory endure, so there is no alms more deserving, none more pleasing to God, none more meritorious for us than the alms, the prayers, the Masses we give to the Holy Souls.”
[See also: https://www.ewtn.com/library/SPIRIT/READRUE.TXT]
And Purgatory: Explained by the Lives and Legends of the Saints, by Father F. X. Schouppe S.J.:
“There is no doubt,” says the devout Father Rossignoli, “that on their entrance into eternal glory the first favors which they ask of the Divine Mercy are for those who have opened to them the gates of Paradise, and they will never fail to pray for their benefactors, whenever they see them in any necessity or danger.”
So I hope your readers are inspired to join the Releasers, whose mission is to “PRAY THEM OUT!” As long as even one soul remains in purgatory, that is too many for us. We pray a powerful prayer that is said to release many souls from purgatory every time it is said. [See: Prayer of St. Gertrude]
All of these souls will become our eternal friends, who–now that they are released from these fires–shall not forget the ones who “Prayed them out.” They will never cease to pray for you in heaven until you join them there.
Thank you for this personal witness, Dr. Kiczek!
To join the Releasers visit: https://www.thepoweroftherosary.com/the-releasers.html
*Notes for clarification:
The fires of purgatory are God’s burning love for our souls. This fire is a purifying, sanctifying fire, “entirely different from the punishment of the damned.” (CCC 1031)
For more information on the fires of purgatory, see also: this review of Susan Tassone’s superb resource, “Day by Day for the Holy Souls in Purgatory: 365 Reflections.” Also: pre-order Tassone’s NEW title: The St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Holy Souls, here.
See also: Catholic Answers: https://www.catholic.com/tracts/purgatory