Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko, priest, martyr
Relics of Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko in Greenpoint
On Sunday October 17, 2010 St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY was blessed with the ceremonial reception of relics of Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko, chaplain of Poland’s SOLIDARITY and workers, martyr of Communist regime, kidnapped, tortured and sank in the reservoir of water electric plant in Wloclawek, Poland, by officers of Security Police on October 19, 1984. The Communist authorities ordered his execution for his inspiration of the people of Poland to maintain their courage and hope in face of relentless Marxist violence and terror in Poland’s fight for its freedom and independence. He was beatified in Warsaw earlier this year, in June. The relics, on the request of the St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, were donated by Archdiocese of Warsaw, Poland.
The event started at Father Jerzy Popieluszko Square in McCarren Park, Greenpoint,(corner of Nassau Ave and Bedford Ave in the mouth of Guernsey Street). Look at the monument in the Square from Bedford Avenue on GoogleMaps Streetview The monument of the blessed martyr priest designed by Polish artist Mr. Stanislawa Lutostanski was installed in 1990 there. Under unclear circumstances, few days after being unveiled the monument was devastated. Head of the priest made in white granite was detached or cut off the monument and left fallen on the ground. Hundreds of people gathered at the monument on Sunday morning in commemorative ceremony lead by pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Rev. Marek Sobczak CM.
Among those present at the monument were Mr. Michael Pajak, President of the New York Chapter of the John Paul II Foundation and members of the organization, Mr. Frank Milewski, President of the Downstate N.Y. Division of the Polish American Congress, members of the Sea League of America, Liga Morska), dressed in traditional white marine uniforms and with Polish and American flags and emblems, provided the honor guard, members of Maria Konopnicka Polish Supplementary School in Greenpoint, on the premises of St. Stanislaus Kostka, Polish scouts and children.
Mr. Pajak opened this commemoration gathering called on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of death of Fr. Jerzy with brief history of life of Fr. Popieluszko and thanked people for attending the event. In his speech, he pointed out it was widely acknowledged that Poland’s 1989 victory attaining the goal of fight for its freedom and independence, and the subsequent collapse of the Communist system should be significantly attributed to the influence of this fearless priest and the moral encouragement of Pope John Paul II. Next, Rev. Marek Sobczak CM, recited a prayer of thanksgiving for the beatification of Poland’s SOLIDARITY priest, Father Jerzy Popieluszko.
After this outdoor observance concluded, all participants marched through the streets of this well-known Polish community, to St. Stanislaus Kostka Church at the corner of Humboldt Street and Driggs Avenue, distant some 1,000 yds from the Popieluszko’s monument. Marching in many people were singing traditional Polish religious songs and hymns as it is very usual in this kind of processions in Poland.
Solemn, concelebrated High Mass at 11:30 AM followed. Bishop Wojciech Polak, Auxiliary bishop for diocese of Gniezno, Poland and the delegate of Poland’s Episcopate for Polish diaspora was the main celebrant. Other concelebrating were Rev. Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zalewski, well-recognized chaplain of worker and opposition groups, persecuted by Communist authorities and priests from St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, Rev. Jan Szylar CM, Rev. Jan Urbaniak CM and the pastor, Rev. Marek Sobczak CM. Church was packed with people who came to pray and to witness the introduction of the First Class Relics of the Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko in to the parochial church.
Two choirs provided the music. One was the 40 members St. Jakobus Jugend Chorus (St. Jacob’s Youth Choir) from St. Jacob parish in Masholte, Germany, where a classmate of Fr. Sobczak works. The other one was recently established parochial choir from St. Stanislaus Kostka, Greenpoint.
German choir sang traditional Polish hymn Gaude Mater Polonia (Rejoice Mother Poland), Panis Angelicus, Ciagly niepokoj na swiecie(Continuing Concerns in the World), and few other pieces after the Mass. The parish choir sung parts of the Mass and two songs dedicated to Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko: “Nie daj sie zwyciezyc zlu” (Do Not Be Overcome by Evil) and “Zlo dobrej zwyciezaj…” (Overcome Evil With Good…”). Father Jaroslaw Lawrenz CM prepared altar servers for the occasion.
Bishop Wojciech Polak delivered homily dedicated to the heroic life of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, inviting people to live in love of God and to fight for the freedom from sin and evil. After the homily he blessed the stone, incensed the relics of Blessed Jerzy and venerated them. All the priests followed him and kissed the relics. For now, the stone reliquary stands in front of the pulpit at the main altar.
The relics are placed in the 5,000 pound, 6ft high finely polished black granite stone monument, dedicated to Fr. Jerzy. Mr. Stanislaw Lutostanski was the artist who made design and did the carving of the stone reliquary and Mr. Adam Czekanski prepared the bronze, Celtic Cross shaped reliquary insert . Next to the reliquary, in the circle whole, which symbolizes evil meant as lack of good, the head of Fr. Popieluszko which was cut off from the monument in McCarren Park was installed. It is marked by scratches and wholes remained after devastation.
Inscription in Polish, on the granite face of the stone reads “Zło dobrem zwyciężaj. Błogosławiony ksiądz Jerzy Popiełuszko 1947-1984. Zginął za wiarę, prawdę i wolną Polskę” (“Overcome Evil with Good. Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko 1947-1984. He died for the faith, truth and the freedom of Poland”). Mr. Michael Pajak, President of the New York Chapter of the John Paul II Foundation and his wife Mrs. Regina Pajak are donors of the stone reliquary to the church. They also played essential role in preparing the project.
After the Mass people venerated the relics of Blessed Father Jerzy Popieuszko. The reliquary will stay in front of the church, so people have an easy access to pay homage the this great Blessed priest. Additionally, at 5:30 PM a Polish film titled “Popieluszko” about life and martyrdom of of Blessed Priest was shown in the Church.
Friday and Saturday evenings, before this Sunday events were dedicated to Fr. Jerzy as well in St. Stanislaus Kostka. On Friday after prayers, a youth choir from the St. Jacob (James) Parish in Mastholte gave a recital. Their first performance was in Poland at the grave of Fr. Popieluszko at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Warsaw. On Saturday, after the evening Mass there was a pantomime presented by youth fro the parich about Fr. Popieluszko, followed by overnight adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko remembered in Greenpoint
Rev. Marek Sobczak expresses a prayer of thanksgiving for the Catholic Church’s beatification last June of Poland’s SOLIDARITY priest, Father Jerzy Popieluszko. A statue to his memory is seen in the background.
Father Popieluszko was bestowed the Church’s title, Blessed, as a result of his gangland murder by Communist authorities on October 19, 1984. The Communists ordered his execution for his inspiration of the people of Poland to maintain their courage and hope in face of relentless Marxist violence and terror in Poland’s fight for its freedom and independence.
It is widely acknowledged that Poland’s 1989 victory attaining this goal and the subsequent collapse of the Communist system should be significantly attributed to the influence of this fearless priest and the moral encouragement of Pope John Paul II.
With a commemorative mass scheduled after conclusion of the outdoor observance, the participants marched through the streets of this well-known Polish community to St. Stanislaus Kostka Church where Rev. Sobczak is pastor. As they did when they still lived in Poland, many in the throng marched to the church singing traditional Polish religious hymns.
Bishop Wojciech Polak from Poland’s Gniezno Diocese was guest celebrant at the St. Stanislaus memorial mass. Later in the day, he traveled to St. Pancras Church in Glendale where he presided over the annual Polish Heritage mass sponsored by the Polish Apostolate of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Photos from the celebration in our gallery…