When I was in Poland for World Youth Day, I had the opportunity to
visit the parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Zoliborz, Poland. This visit at
the very beginning of our journey in Poland just seemed like another
stop at a beautiful Church in our adventures in Poland. When I heard
the story of Blessed Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko, I was inspired. Unfortunately
the large timeline mural at the back of the Church highlighting Fr.
Popieluszko’s life was in Polish. In that moment, the language barrier
directly challenged my enthusiasm to get to know him. However, recently
I have read more in order to learn about this holy man’s life: I
thought I would share an excerpt of this holy man’s life with you.
I would have to say that Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko taught me the most
about living your vocation and also bringing the new evangelization to
life through action. Throughout his life, Fr. Jerzy showed everyday that
his vocation to the priesthood was a life passion to serve Jesus with his
whole heart. As a priest, Fr. Jerzy brought the Eucharist to the peripheries,
in a time of severe atheism and communism in Poland. One of
these celebrations of the Eucharist took place in the summer of 1980
when he celebrated Mass at an ironworkers factory. He didn’t want to
wait for the faithful to come to his parish; he brought the Eucharist and
the opportunity for reconciliation directly to them! I heard countless
stories about how Fr. Jerzy was more than just a priest; he was a friend
to many. He believed that priests should fight to be close to the nonbelievers
and the doubtful. Many say that Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko acted
quite ordinarily, but it was this ordinariness that attracted others because
of the extraordinary in his ordinariness. In these ways, Fr. Jerzy
brought the vocation of the priesthood and the Eucharist to the peripheries
where people needed them the most.
Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko also left us a profound model of living the new
evangelization. He believed that, to have a world full of cheerfulness,
we needed three things: courage to seek the truth, faithfulness to conscience
and sacrifice to love. He put these ideals into action daily for
everyone around him to witness. He is known for saying during one of
his Masses, “Yes sometimes I feel tired. I don’t have enough time for
everyone. I have the least for myself. But I am not weary.” This martyr
for the faith shows us a path to self-denial in following God’s Will.
In an interview, he stated,
“What can I give? First and foremost my time
and my prayer. I am just there with the people in every situation”.
Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko inspires me (and hopefully you!) to give myself to
others with my time and my prayer, in the hope of bringing the Gospel
to life, one day, and one person at a time.