MARTYRED PRIEST REMEMBERED
ON SOLIDARITY'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY

New York--New York's Polish American community continues its observance of the 25th anniversary of Poland's Solidarity with special ceremonies on Sunday, October 16, 2005, in Brooklyn. The events are being organized and coordinated by the Downstate New York Division of the Polish American Congress (PAC).

In 1980, with the fiery Lech Walesa as their spokesman, the striking workers of the Gdansk shipyard prompted workers in other parts of the country to join them and organize their own strikes and protests. These eventually forced the Soviet-imposed Communist regime in Warsaw to sign an agreement establishing Solidarity as the first free-trade and self-governing union behind the Iron Curtain.

The Polish American Congress selected October 16 to mark this historic event in order to coincide it with the PAC's annual commemoration of the 1984 murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko. Adding to the religious overtones of the day is the fact that John Paul II became Pope on October 16, 1978.

Although the Communist rulers did sign the Gdansk pact, they declared martial law in Poland a little over a year later. Father Popieluszko repeatedly and fearlessly spoke out against the repression from his pulpit in St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Warsaw. Despite numerous threats on his life, he kept defending the human rights and dignity of the Polish people.

Unable to silence him with their intimidation, the authorities could no longer tolerate the priest's inspirational message and ordered him killed. His death only served to reinforce the determination of the Polish people to continue their struggle against the Communist tyranny encouraged by the words of John Paul the Great, "Be Not Afraid."

A memorial mass for Father Popieluszko was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at Greenpoint's St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. Following that, participants were scheduled to march from the church to Popieluszko Square at McCarren Park on Bedford Avenue where additional services were planned.

At 3:00 p.m., the Polish American Congress holds its "Salute to Solidarity" banquet at the Polonaise Terrace, 150 Greenpoint Avenue.

 
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