‘Blessed fr Jerzy Popieluszko’
Fr Sylwester Lacki, CSMA
The beatification of the Martyr Priest Jerzy Popieluszko passed down to the history of the Catholic Church and the history of Poland. It is a great gift for our nation whose book of holiness was enriched by another – special and very meaningful – chapter. As Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz wrote in the foreword of the album, ‘the beatification of Fr Jerzy became an occasion to make a moral evaluation of the communist system, the ideology of which enslaved millions of people.’
The 20th century was marked by the acts of heroic attitudes of saints, including numerous martyrs, as well as the events and deeds, which occurred in the darkest chapters in the history of mankind. Over 25 years ago Fr Jerzy Popieluszko was murdered with extreme cruelty, the aim being to kill the spirit of struggle for freedom and truth in the Polish nation and to strike a blow against the Church so that she was to be silent and submitted to the communist authorities of the Polish People’s Republic. But it is God that directs the fate of the world and can bring good out of any evil.
The album entitled ‘Blessed Fr Jerzy Popieluszko’ is the tribute paid to this Priest and to all whose lives showed that one should do good in any conditions, not yielding to fear and evil, even at the cost of death. It contains the archival photographs reminding us of the way of the future Blessed to priesthood and martyrdom. The contemporary photos taken by Grzegorz Galazka show the family house of Fr Jerzy, his parents, various documents and letters as well as his handwritten sermons. We can also see the churches he used to work in.
A considerable part of the album was dedicated to the Church of St Stanislaw Kostka in Warsaw-Zoliborz; we can see the church interior and the Museum of Blessed Fr Jerzy Popieluszko. Moreover, the album contains the photos of some anniversaries, which were held at the grave of the Martyr. It includes the photos of the funeral of Fr Jerzy and the photos of the Holy Father John Paul II who prayed at the Martyr’s grave in 1987. Some pages were dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Fr Popieluszko’s martyrdom, which was held at the dam in Wloclawek and in the district of Zoliborz, with the presence of President Lech Kaczynski. Then the President awarded Fr Jerzy the Order of the White Eagle posthumously. The last part of the album presents the beatification ceremony held in Pilsudski Square in Warsaw on 6 June 2010, with the participation of Fr Jerzy’s mother and brothers and sisters. The ceremony was presided over by the legate of the Holy Father Benedict XVI Archbishop Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Fr Zygmunt Malacki, the parish priest of the St Stanislaw Kostka’s Church in Warsaw-Zoliborz, speaks about Fr Jerzy’s priestly ministry, his struggles with illnesses, his religious-patriotic activities and the Masses for Homeland as well as the repressions of the communist regime against the Church in Poland and against Fr Jerzy. He gives his testimony how his fellow brother in priesthood – the present Blessed Jerzy – overcame evil with good and how good deeds continuously grow from this sacrifice, how the cult originated; his testimony about the process of beatification and the origin of the ‘sanctuary of conscience’ and the Museum of Blessed Fr Jerzy Popieluszko in the basements of the parish church in Zoliborz.