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Martyrs

Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko (1947-1984),
P o l a n d
October 19, 1984

“Conquer the bad through the good.”

Popieluszko was born in the Polish village of Okopy near Suchowola. His parents were farmers. On May 28, 1972 he ws ordained a priest by Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski. From this time on he worked at parishes in Warszaw with children and youth. He then became a minister at medical institutes as well as being involved in the founding of workers’ communities. In summer 1980 he said his first Mass for striking welders on the grounds of their factory. Fr. Jerzy organized a “school” for workers – a cycle of lectures on various topics that were led by experts.
When the military won power in Poland (December 13, 1981), Fr. Popieluszko engaged in charitable activity supporting people persecuted by the communist regime.

Popieluszko’s religious-patriotic homilies that he had been giving since 1982 were certainly a thorn in the government’s flesh. He pointed out social injustice and became the “conscience of the people”. For a Poland assailed by social unrest he saw a redemption in the words of St. Paul: “Conquer the bad through the good.” The communists tried to intimidate the inconvenient priest: break-ins, shadowing, damage of private goods, bombs, a false trial, numerous arrests and finally car accidents – a whole arsenal of means that should have forced Fr. Popieluszko to retreat from social life.

On the night of October 19,1984, Fr. Jerzy was driving home from Bydgoszcz, when his car was pulled over by security forces. After attempting to flee from the trunk, he was beaten up several times and finally was taken to the dam near Wloclawek, where he was drowned. The funaral of Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko was attended by thousands who were convinced that they were “witnesses of the sacrifice of a priest who gave his life for the truth.”

Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko "whose death has opened our eyes, the eyes of our hearts, our minds and our faith" was beatified on June 6, 2010, in Warsaw's Pilsudski Square (Poland).