25 August 2018

Martyrs of Chimbote (1991)

These martyrs are three priests, two Conventual Franciscans and an Italian missionary priest, murdered in August 1991 by the Shining Path guerrillas of Peru.

Alessandro Dordi, the eldest, was born in Italy in 1931. He had arrived in Peru in 1980. Michael Tomaszek, thirty-one, a Polish priest, had arrived in Peru in 1989, where he joined his fellow Franciscan, Zbigniew Adam Strzalkowski, thirty-three, who had arrived in 1988.

The two young priests were still struggling to learn Spanish, serving in a parish in the town of Pariocota, where they trained catechists, administered the sacraments, and served their neighbors in every way they could. Meanwhile the specter of the Shining Star was growing. This utlra-revolutionary movement targeted not only the authorities but also trade unionists, peasant leaders, and even whole villages that rejected their vision of pure communism. The priests were targeted as “enemies of the people,” whose pastoral work undermined the thirst of revolution.

On August 9, 1991, the guerillas attacked Pariocota, seized the two Polish priests, and shot them. When the news reached the neighboring parish of Fr. Dordi, he presumed that his own end was approaching. “Goodbye,” he wrote to a friend, “I am going back now and they will kill me.” He was murdered on August 25.

Officially recognized as martyrs, the three were beatified in December 2015.

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