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Archbishop O’Reilly celebrates Mass of Welcome for Relics of Polish Martyrs


The presence of the relics will enable us to bring to our hearts and minds the many Christians in our time who are suffering as they witness to their faith” – Archbishop O’Reilly

On Sunday, 21 April, Good Shepherd Sunday, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, DD, celebrated a Mass of Welcome at 1.00pm for the relics of Polish martyrs, Blessed Zbigniew Strzałkowski and Michal Tomaszek.  This Mass was celebrated at Saint Joseph and Saint Brigid Church, Bohernanave, Thurles, Co Tipperary, E41 KF98, in the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly.

Opening Words of Welcome from Archbishop O’Reilly:

“Today is a special day in the life of the Church of St. Joseph and Brigid here in Thurles as we welcome the relics of two Polish missionary martyrs -Blessed Zbigniew and Blessed Michal.

They died in 1991 as they witnessed among their people, in Peru,  South America, to the Gospel of Truth and Love.

It is a privilege for the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly to have the opportunity to venerate their memory and to hold the relics here in our diocese.

I welcome and thank the members of the Polish community here present especially those who have gathered from our own diocese and neighbouring dioceses together with Fr. Jarek Kurek OSB who has liaised with the Conventual Province in Poland.

The links between the Irish Church and the Polish Church stretch back in time.

Our celebration today is  a sign of our common faith and bond with our Polish Sisters and Brothers. It is their hope and, indeed, mine, that these bonds will be strengthened by today’s occasion.

I welcome the two Franciscan Brothers who have accompanied the relics to Ireland  – Father Dariusz and Brother Jan.

I welcome, Abbot Brendan Coffey, Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, Murroe, Co Limerick, Fr. John Collins from the Diocese of Cork and Ross who worked in Peru and knew personally one of the martyrs, Fr S. Hajkouski, Coordinator of the Polish chaplaincy in Ireland, Fr. P. Gilbert, PP of Nenagh and priests, religious and people  of the parish of Thurles who are present.

I also welcome the First Counsellor of the Polish Embassy to Ireland together with representatives of our civil society who have gathered today on this unique occasion – Good Shepherd Sunday.

The church today has many brave and courageous priests, religious and lay people who are placing their lives at risk to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The presence of the relics will enable us to bring to our hearts and minds the many Christians in our time who are suffering as they witness to their faith.

Our celebration will be in English, Polish and we will also use the international language of the church – Latin, with a little Gaelige.

You are all very welcome.”

Glenstal Abbey-based Father Kurek OSB, originally from Poland, has been the lead organiser for the visit of the holy relics to Ireland.  Father Kurek said, “It is the goal of the Polish community to strengthen the Catholic faith by venerating the heroic Franciscans who sacrificed their lives in the Peruvian Andes in 1991.  We wish to share the good news of their lives and ministy with both the Polish citizens and with our Irish brothers and sisters in faith who, over the last twenty years, have magnanimously accepted us on their land and in their workplaces.” 

The Relics will now be held in the Church of St. Joseph & St. Brigid for future use in the Archdiocese.