Remembering the murder of a Polish priest

A section of McCarren Park in Brooklyn, N.Y.,  is named for the late Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a popular priest who was outspoken in his support for the Solidarity movement in Poland and who was abducted and murdered by government agents in 1984. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of his death, a special ceremony was held at the park Oct. 19 and attended by, among others, members of the Polish American Congress.

Photo courtesy of Polish American Congress

Photo courtesy of Polish American Congress

The ceremony followed Mass celebrated at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn by Father Marek Sobczak, pastor, who also led a prayer service at Father Popieluszko Square in the park. Each year there is a service to remember the death of the priest, who is memorialized in a bust in the park.

The Polish American Congress had a major role in getting the city of New York to agree to name a section of the park for the priest. It was dedicated by then-Mayor Edward Koch in 1986.

During the years the Solidarity movement rose to fight communism in Poland, Pope John Paul II told his countrymen, “Do not be afraid.” And as the Polish American Congress noted, “Father Popieluszko conveyed the pope’s words of guidance and encouragement to his Polish parishioners every month” during his popular “Masses for the homeland.”

In 1990 the Warsaw Archdiocese approved an official prayer for the late priest’s canonization and raised his church, also named St. Stanislaus Kostka, to the status of a national shrine. Father Popieluszko is buried there.

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