Today is the 30th Anniversary of the martyrdom of beloved blessed Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko.
On October 19th, 2014 we celebrated the life and martyrdom of Fr. Jerzy that took place in 1984. Brought together by Father Jerzy’s message, comforted by his story and resilient to spread his words. We gathered together today to share the love Father Jerzy would have wanted.
With great veneration there was a mass in Father Jerzy’s honor and memory in Jacksonville, Fl. at St. Matthew’s Church. The mass was presided by Bishop Felipe J. Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine. Bishop Estévez is no stranger to the struggle and oppositional strong hold of communism as he is from Cuba. He in turn was honored to preside over the mass for blessed Father Jerzy of Poland.
The altar was adorned with a wreath of flowers in Fr. Jerzy’s that was dressed with ribbon provided by the Polish community honoring Blessed Fr. Jerzy in Polish. There was a relic of Fr. Jerzy as well. “A relic is a piece of the body of a saint, an item owned or used by the saint, or an object which has been touched to the tomb of a saint.” The walls were decorated with a solidarnosc (solidarity) banner along with similar banners draping across the altar.
While the mass was a memorial for Fr. Jerzy and the the 30th anniversary of his death at the hands of Polish police, it was also a celebration. Fr. Jerzy did not die such a cruel death in vain, his legacy still remains. His stand against the interference and over reach of the government can be related to today’s world thirty years later. He was outspoken against the way the government abused their power and infringed on the freedom of its people.
Being that Fr. Jerzy was Polish the mass was presented half in Polish half in English and attended by both nations. The readings as well as the music were shared in both languages. That added to the symbolical reverence of the mass and the unity of the countries. In Poland there is feast day commemorating the life of Popieluszko held on October 19, the anniversary of his death. It is fitting that we celebrate his life and death globally as the Catholic church moves towards canonizing the blessed priest.
Paul Hensler spoke about Fr. Jerzy and of the second miracle that was granted on September 21st 2014. This miracle moves Fr. Jerzy closer to becoming a saint within the Catholic church. He spoke of the third level relic card that Father Bernard used to pray over a dying man by the name of Francis, a 56-year-old Frenchman, who was dying of an extremely malignant type of leukemia. After praying Fr. Jerzy’s prayer over Francis, Francis was miraculously healed and still alive today.
The service was a moving as well as inspirational memorial of a great man and the truth that changed the world. Thirty years later his sermons are still relevant as when they were originally shared with the oppressed Polish community. As the mass closed it was said that in order for the memory and legacy of Fr. Jerzy to continue it needs to be shared. Sharing his words and his works he will live eternally.
There is a documentary that every Catholic should watch and then share with their non-Catholic friends. There are also books that tell his story as well as document his sermons. As Fr. Jerzy travels the road towards sainthood, he can use our prayers and blessing along the way.
Not only was Fr. Jerzy’s death remembered here, but also in Poland by the Prime Minister as seen below