FR. POPIELUSZKO MET WITH THE POPE IN THE YEAR 1983
S. JANINA MARTA ELZBIETA CZERKO
An important testimony was sent to the editorial office of ‘Niedziela’ by s. Janina Czerko from Warsaw, correcting the wrong information repeated in media that Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko had not met with John Paul II. Sister informs that it is not true. The meeting took place in Warsaw during the second pilgrimage of the Pope to Homeland – in 1983. S. Janina Czerko gave a testimony about that meeting in a letter sent to ‘Niedziela’
I was a witness and somehow a perpetrator of their meeting in the church of the Capuchin Fathers in Warsaw in 1983, when the Holy Father visited the heart of Jan Sobieski in this church.
I received two invitations from Fr. Gabriel Bartoszewski OFMCap which gave a possibility to enter the church in Miodowa street during the visit of John Paul II. I gave one invitation to Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko about which he was happy. I went to this church much earlier in order to have the best seat. The arrival of the Pope was closer, but I did not see Fr. Jerzy in the church. A few minutes before the arrival of the Holy Father Fr. Jerzy ‘ran into’ the church. All seats near the passage of the Pope had been taken. I waved to the priest so that he would come to my place, and I stepped back and stood on a bench. He only told me that he had been stopped by the safety officers and did not want to let him into the church, so he pushed away one of them and ran away. My place on which Fr. Jerzy stood, was next to Mrs. Barbara Sadowska – mum of murdered Grzes Przemyk. And, in this way, Fr. Jerzy met with the Holy Father, had a talk with him and even introduced Mrs. Barbara Sadowska to the Pope which I saw and about which Fr. Jerzy told me himself.
I emphasize that I saw Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko for the first time in the beginning of May 1982 when he had brought medications to the House of Veteran Artists of Polish Stage. I was coming out of an accountancy office, and Fr. Jerzy was entering the House in the company of Bozena Roszkowska – the manager of the House. He was not very tall, young and slim man, wearing civil clothes. I did not know who he was. Only after the visit did the manager tell us that it was Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko who had brought about 10 cartons of medications and took them to the medical-nursing room.
In May 1982, in the House of Veteran Artists in Skolimow there was Roma Szczepkowska with her husband Andrzej – an actor who arrived here for rest. She told us about Holy Masses which are celebrated for Homeland by Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko on every last Sunday in a month, in the church of St. Stanislaw Kostka in Warsaw in Zoliborz. She was surprised that we knew nothing about it. She encouraged us to participate in these Holy Masses. On 30 May 1982 – on the last Sunday I went there with another sister. Later I used to go there nearly every month.
On 14 June 1982 Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko arrived in this House of Artists in Skolimow for rest, by recommendation of Roma and Andrzej Szczepkowski, because, in fact, people outside the actors’ world were not accepted here. He stayed in the ‘House of a Gardener’. He was very tired. He stayed here for two weeks. Our residents and guests quickly guessed that he was an unusual priest. They participated in Holy Masses celebrated by Fr. Poopieluszko in the chapel of the house and other priests ‘flooded’ him with talks.
At that time the superior – s. Bogumila ordered me to care about Fr. Jerzy. And it was how my friendship with the Holy Man started and, finally, with the Martyr.
This is a small fragment of my memories about Fr. Jerzy which I wrote on 26 November 1984, that is, about a month after his death, with the advice of my friend- employee in the Museum of Literature in Warsaw.