He did not want to simply serve the poor. He wanted to become one of them, to remove any distance: "We must be good like bread, which is on the table for everyone and from which each can cut a slice and eat, if he is hungry."
In 1863, during the January uprising after the Battle of Mełchów, Adam Chmielowski was captured. The eighteen-year-old’s shattered leg was amputated without anesthesia. He survived, refusing to succumb to bitterness, and began to study painting. His sensitivity and talent guaranteed him an excellent career, but Adam felt that he still had not found the true meaning of his life. His brilliant painting "Ecce Homo," showing the tortured Jesus, symbolically reflects the discovery of his vocation.
In 1887, in the Chapel of the Capuchin Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Krakow, he donned the gray habit of the Third Order of St. Francis. He wrote: "Adam Chmielowski has died and brother Albert has been born." He devoted everything to the poor and homeless. "What will I give them, if not myself?" he asked. He abandoned his old studio on ul. Basztowa and lived with those whom he called "weevils." He ate with them from one pot. He never showed disgust, even though he served people who were dirty and smelly, sometimes drunk, and had rotting wounds. Once when he went to a cafe to ask for donations – he was hit in the face. He only said: "That was for me, and now I ask for something for my poor."
He founded the congregations of the Albertine Brothers and Albertine Sisters.
Once when asked if he is finally happy, he smiled and replied: "I have shelters and communities of my brethren in Krakow, Tarnów, Lviv, and Zakopane. This year, I distributed 20,000 loaves of bread and 12,000 servings of porridge and provided night shelter to hundreds who did not have one. Let that serve as an answer, brother." During his funeral in Rakowicki Cemetery, multitudes walked behind his coffin: from professors of the Jagiellonian University to poor people in rags.