On December 5, 2023, the world’s first church dedicated to the Blessed Martyrs Michał TOMASZEK and Zbigniew STRZAŁKOWSKI was consecrated at the Paz y Bien Retreat Center in Chimbote, Peru. The Most Reverend Ángel Ernesto ZAPATA BANCES, Bishop of Chimbote, Peru, presided over the rite of consecration. The ceremony coincided with the eighth anniversary of the beatification of the two Conventual Franciscan missionaries from Poland.
Despite the pandemic, and the financial crisis that followed, the construction of the church was completed quickly, mainly thanks to the efforts of the Chimbote community and Friar Grzegorz ADAMCZYK, the Administrator of the retreat center.
On the afternoon of the same day, the first congress dedicated to the memory of the Blessed Martyrs was held in the auditorium of the ULADECH-Chimbote Catholic University. The participants listened to lectures on topics covering the political, social and ecclesial context of the martyrdom of the blessed friars. In addition, they learned the role the two friars played in every Christian’s journey toward holiness. The Postulator General, Friar Zdzisław KIJAS, spoke on this topic in particular. He also provided personal testimony about Friars Michał and Zbigniew, since he had studied with them in Cracow. He also talked about the development of their beatification process, which took place while he was serving at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Next, some witnesses of the lives of the Blessed Martyrs shared their testimony and everyone enthusiastically sang the beatification hymn several times.
On the previous day, December 4, the newly rebuilt friary in Pariacoto was blessed and an exhibition dedicated to the Blessed Martyrs was inaugurated, sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Peru. The liturgical celebration was presided over by the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI.
Notably, the funds for reconstructing the friary and adapting it to the needs for the cult of the Blessed Martyrs came mainly from donors in Poland, who had a particular affinity for the Blessed Martyrs. Much of the old friary was rebuilt. The rooms used by the Blessed Martyrs each day were converted into a museum space. The new friary building where the friars currently live has been completed. The part designated for a multimedia room, a chapel and service rooms is still under construction, but the work is coming along well.
Those attending both events in Pariacoto and Chimbote included the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI; the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow), Friar Marian GOŁĄB; the Most Reverend Stanisław DOWLASZEWICZ BILLMAN, OFM Conv., Auxiliary Bishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia; the Postulator General, Friar Zdzisław KIJAS; the General Delegate for Mission Animation, Friar Dariusz MAZUREK; the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Peru, Ms. Magdalena ŚNIADECKA-KOTARSKA; some Conventual Franciscans from Paraguay, Germany and Poland; and finally, the faithful of Peru.
Friar Jacek LISOWSKI