Polish Filip Wiewiora, who now lives in Nenagh, with his Irish teacher Gerry Starr, playing the bagpipes during the procession with the relics.Photos: Irene Fenton

A Polish celebration of welcome in Tipp

The Polish community locally extended an open invitation to people from Thurles and surrounding parishes to attend a celebration of welcome for the relics of two Polish Franciscan martyrs at a special Mass in St Joseph and St Brigid Church, Bohernanave recently. Archbishop Kieran O’ Reilly presided at the ceremony which will also had the General Consul of Poland Maciej Wojcik and the Abbot of Glenstal, Brendan Coffey, in attendance. The Polish community were happy to share their veneration of the martyrs with the Irish people who have accepted them into their country and workplaces over the past 20 years.

Known as the Martyrs of Chimbote, these two Polish Conventual Franciscan Friars, Blessed Zbigniew Strzałkowski and Michal Tomaszek, left their homeland for Peru in 1989 to start missionary work in the Andes. The parish they worked in consisted of 90 villages, with no water or power supplies. Their work, therefore, had to be both pastoral and manual. In 1991, they were warned by the terrorist organisation Shining Path that they would to be killed if they stayed. In spite of the danger, they remained with their flock. They were shot dead by the terrorists on August 9 1991, directly after a Mass they had celebrated in the local church in Pariacoto. Their colleague, Italian missionary Fr Alessandro Dordi, was killed on August 25, 1991. The beatification of the three martyrs took place on December 5, 2015 at Mass celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Amato and 500 other priests, with the congregation of 25,000 people gathered at the stadium in Chimbote, Peru.