Motivational Speaker Inspired by Saint Maximilian Kolbe

Extraordinary inspiration from a selfless courageous man

Even surrounded by darkness and unimaginable cruelty, Father Maximilian shows love, hope and courage

As a motivational speaker, people ask me all the time what motivates me.  It’s simple.  I study successful people, or extraordinary people, or even ordinary people who have led extraordinary lives.  Everyone has a story and I get a lot of hope and inspiration from incredible stories.

One of my favorites is the life of Maximilian Kolbe.  Born in Poland in 1894, he had a profound vision of the Virgin Mary when he was a youth.  He joined a Franciscan Monestary and was ordained a Catholic Priest in 1918.  He was a very smart man earning PhD’s in philosophy and theology.  He also studied engineering which came in handy when he started his own radio station, weekly newspaper and monthly magazine.  Imagine what it would take to do that today – yet he had a circulation of 230,000 for his weekly paper and over a million for his monthly magazine.  He founded and ran a monastery before going to Japan and starting another radio station, newspaper and monastery just outside of Nagasaki.  He was told it would be more in tune with nature if he built the monastery on the other side of the mountain where he planned to build.  He stuck to the original plans.  Good thing.  When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, it was the other side of the mountain that took the force of the blast.  Had he listened to others, his work and the lives of all those monks would have been destroyed.

In the 1930’s he went back to Poland and was very outspoken against the Nazi regime.  He sheltered 2000 jews in his monasteries.  He was arrested in February of 1941 and put into a concentration camp.  He was transferred to Auschwitz.  In July of 1941, it was thought that a prisoner had escaped. In order to deter further escape attempts, the deputy commander ordered 10 random men to be put to death in the starvation bunker. One of the men chosen, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out “I have a wife and children. What will become of my family?”  With that, Father Maximilian stepped forward and said, “I am a Catholic Priest. I have no children – take me instead.”  The switch was made.

Father Maximilian showed courage, faith, and love – all traits we can draw hope from.  Even in the darkest of hours, surrounded by the worst human cruelty, Father Maximilian led the 9 other men in song and prayer as one by one they starved to death.  After 2 weeks, the last standing was Father Maximilan who was then injected with a fatal cocktail.

In 1982, Pope John Paul the Great canonized Father Maximilian elevating his status to Saint Maximilian.  My husband Yves was there and said St. Peter’s square was packed with thousands of people around the world.  Including former prisoners wearing their prison uniforms.  In the crowd was Franciszek Gajowniczek who vowed to spend the rest of his life honoring the man who gave his life for a stranger.

Franciszek lived until he was 95 years old.

What motivates me?  Studying people who do extraordinary things.  I’m not sure I can fathom what Saint Maximilian endured in his life, but what I can do is know that when I am surrounded by darkness, I can follow a man who is a role model in every sense of the term – showing love, compassion, heart, courage and faith.

Love, Your ever-wanting-to-continue-to-inspire-motivational speaker, Marilyn Sherman


Marilyn Sherman, CSP is a Front-Row Leadership Expert helping people get out of the balcony and get a front-row seat in life. For over 20 years she has inspired audiences with topics on Visioning, Goal Achievement and having a No More Excuses attitude! Check out her fun, dynamic style at

Marilyn Sherman, Owner UpFront Presentations - Helping people get a Front-Row seat in their life!
9030 W. Sahara Ave #444
Las Vegas, NV 89117

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  1. What a beautiful, motivating story and an outstanding reminder of love, compassion and faith. As a fellow motivational speaker, I relish in stories such as these too. Thank you, Marilyn, for sharing such a powerful, moving look into one man’s influential life.

  2. Wow – what a beautiful story, Marilyn.  It is indeed a very inspiring one and I can see why you love it.  It also snaps things into perspective pretty quickly, doesn’t it?  My troubles certainly seem absurdly minor when compared in the light to his.  Thank you for this very inspiring story!

  3. Oh, Marilyn, thanks for sharing. What an incredible story of love and courage and honor. I will share it right now and know that it will bless someone else as much as it did me.

  4. What a beautiful story of courage and compassion.  Thank you for sharing a story that helps to inspire my journey to living a life that helps others.

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