Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko - Priest and Martyr
It was determined that a priest was needed to celebrate Mass for the Solidarity, and be their spiritual director. No one ever thought this would be a dangerous job for Jerzy Popieluszko
He would celebrate Mass, give a homily, and spiritual advice. They neglected to consider one important thing, the man to whom they gave the job. Jerzy went out to the factory where a strike was being held in Warsaw. A large Cross was erected. Fr. Jerzy celebrated Mass. During his homily, he inspired the workers, aroused them to greater determination. By the end of the Mass, he was not just the Priest celebrating Mass for them; he was Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, their supporter and Spiritual Director.
Fr. Jerzy stayed with them for the next fifteen months during that strike. During the most difficult times, when Lech Walesa and the leaders of Solidarity were sent to internment camps, as well as the factory workers in Warsaw, Fr. Jerzy worked untiringly for the union during the trials. He did anything and everything he could. He got legal help for them, baby sitters, food, clothing. He became the pastor for nine million workers! He also became a thorn in the side of the government. The persecution began, hot and heavy. He was constantly being harassed by the government.
The more they came after Jerzy, the bolder his homilies became. He was supported by the Cardinal Primate, Cardinal Josef Glemp. But his fellow priests worried about having him celebrate Mass in their churches. They were afraid of his following.
Every time he would celebrate a Solidarity Mass, thousands would attend. His homilies were incendiary.
The priests in the churches where the Masses were celebrated often worried about repercussions from the government. They tried not to let him give homilies wherever possible. But the people loved Fr. Jerzy. He was a folk hero.
Solidarity was declared illegal, and outlawed.
Fr. Jerzy retaliated. In a homily in August, 1982, he criticized the government, and at the same time, gave hope and courage to the people. "On a December night last year, in a violent and painful manner, the agreements from Gdansk and Silesia were broken. It was a blow and a wound that is still bleeding. It is not mortal, because you cannot hit mortally something immortal. Hope cannot die. Solidarity was and is the hope of millions of Poles, and that hope is made stronger because it is connected with God in prayer."
It was on December 13, 1981 that the communists declared Martial Law in Poland, and outlawed Solidarity.
They began in earnest to destroy Solidarity and all its proponents. Fr. Jerzy became a prime target. They began by attacking him with false accusations of illegal political activity. The communist newspaper accused him of sedition, of trying to overthrow the government. They took offense because he accused them of hypocrisy, anti-democratic legislation, anti-human legislation, depriving the people of the basic human freedoms.
Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko had to become a target of the Department IV, the communist equivalent to the Gestapo or KGB.
They turned their people on Fr. Jerzy. Threats of all kinds were leveled against him. Harassment from every level of the government was thrown at him. He was as much as told he would be murdered.
The month prior to his martyrdom, Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko was warned that he had to stop bringing groups to Czestochowa, the major Marian shrine of Poland.
Our Lady of Czestochowa is to the Polish people, much like what Our Lady of Guadalupe is to the people of Mexico. She has been the major force which has given them hope over the centuries that they would overcome the tyranny and persecution to which they had always been subjected. No matter what happened, whether it be the Nazis of World War II, or the Communists after the war, they knew they could count on Our Lady to make it right.
However, this was not in keeping with the Communist policy of complete despair, lack of hope of any kind, which they had tried to instill in the people these last forty years.
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- Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko
Martyr of Communism
One of the truly great modern heroes of Poland of the Communist era, a prophet, a man who gave up his life for his brothers, and whose execution brought about the downfall of Communism in Poland.
Fr. Jerzy was born on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. He would prove to be a super strong catalyst in bringing about the Triumph of the Cross in Poland, six years after his Martyrdom.
See special scenes from his ministry and his funeral; meet his parents and the Lady he loved in Czestochowa.
ISBN 0-926143-47-6 $19.95 Our prices explained
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