After more than forty years, the Blessed Conventual Franciscan missionaries known as the Martyrs of Pariacoto returned to their novitiate in the form of their relics. On May 9, 2023, some of their bone fragments enshrined in a reliquary were solemnly delivered to the formation house in Smardzewice, near Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland. The relics were delivered by Friar Marian GOŁĄB, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow).
In his homily during Mass, the Minister Provincial said, “This is a historic day for the novitiate in Smardzewice. I bring you the relics of Blessed Zbigniew STRZAŁKOWSKI and Blessed Michał TOMASZEK, who lived here during a very important time—the time of their novitiate, the beginning of their religious life. Through their relics, enshrining particles of their bodies, they return here, to Smardzewice, to this place of formation, to guide you, and the other friars who will live here. They shall intercede for those who begin their Conventual Franciscan religious life here. May they be a source of inspiration for you and may they be your patrons.”
He went on to explain that these two friar martyrs went to Peru and preached the Word of God, like Paul and Barnabas from the Acts of the Apostles, featured in the day’s reading for Mass. “The spirit of the Acts of the Apostles was realized in the life of our confreres Zbigniew and Michał. This spirit is extremely important to us, to our charism, to the Conventual Franciscan charism, where evangelization through the community is essential. It was no coincidence that they were always together—right until the last moment. They were both arrested together and they were taken together to the place of execution. They both died together and were raised to the altars and beatified. Now they travel the world together, through their relics, bearing witness to unity. This reliquary was specially made so as not to separate them even after death.”
At the end of the liturgy, the Novice Master, Friar Michał BRZEZICHA, thanked the Minister Provincial for the gift of the relics, and added, “Thus, we have fulfilled the recommendation of the general canonical visitation to place the relics of the Blessed Missionary Martyrs in the novitiate chapel, and we derive great spiritual benefit from their physical presence in this place. I also think that their presence will help us to open our hearts to the grace of God, which they obtain for us.”
Both of the Blessed Martyrs completed their first year of religious formation in Smardzewice: Friar Zbigniew STRZAŁKOWSKI in 1979-1980, and Friar Michał TOMASZEK in 1980-1981. Their biographies are published on the website: meczennicy.franciszkanie.pl.
Friar Jan M. SZEWEK