SAINT PEOPLE LIVE AMONG US
Through your death you became for a lot of young people all over the world a confidante of their matters to Jesus Christ. Your engagement and missionary spirituality led You to the place of martyrdom death where you wanted to proclaim about Christ and testify His love to the man. You followed the voice of the Master of Nazareth courageously. Your death is not a loss! – said cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz on 19 February 2017 in the church of St. Barbara in Libiąż, beginning the Holy Mass in the intention of the late Helena Kmieć
It was the second part of the funeral ceremony which had begun a day before. A few thousand people arrived at the church in Libiąż – from the near and the far. The Holy Mass presided over by cardinal Dziwisz, was celebrated by: bishop Antoni Reimann – an apostolic vicar in Bolivia, bishop Jan Zając, bishop Tadeusz Pieronek, bishop Leszek Leszkiewicz and 120 priests.
A funeral of the national character
At the white coffin of Helena also her relatives gathered, including her parents and sister, as well as representatives of the national and local authorities, soldiers, miners, firemen and, first of all, volunteers. Priests concelebrating the Holy Mass were wearing bright robes, symbolizing chastity, innocence and faith that Helen is already enjoying the glory of Heaven. The funeral had the national character. The Polish President Andrzej Duda posthumously awarded Helena Kmieć with the Gold Cross of merits for her engagement in charity and social work and engagement in help to people in need. The prime minister of the government Beata Szydło wrote a letter which says: ‘Saying farewell to Helena Kmieć, we are saying farewell to the symbol of good, unselfish help and sincere love of the others. Her death brought us pain and suffering but her life will remain inspiration and an example for many of us’. The funeral ceremony of the volunteer was attended by the family of President of Poland – Janina and Jan Duda.
Testament of Helena: Holiness – as the final purpose
Asked before the Holy Mass, whether he agreed with the statement that we were going to participate in the funeral of a saint girl, the Provincial of Polish Salvatorians Fr. Piotr Filas SDS answered: - I think that it is a right sentence. He also noted that it was just the end of the earthly journey of the murdered volunteer, but also it was the beginning of a new stage – her accompanying us from Heaven. And he added: - In my opinion, beside the fact that Helen is going to be the patron of the Missionary Volunteering Salvator, it can be said that she indicated us a direction of action. Through her person God wanted to remind us that the earthly life would end, and this real happiness is on the other side, where – in the home of our Father there are a lot of flats.
The homily was given by Fr. Franciszek Ślusarczyk – a rector of the sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Kraków-Łagiewniki, who reminded how beautiful and conscious Helen’s life had been. In his opinion the source of spiritual beauty which emanated from the tragically deceased volunteer was her everyday life close to Christ. He emphasized that the funeral Holy Mass of Helena is mainly a great thanksgiving for the fact that ‘the saints really live close to us’. – A great thing is to die with dignity, but a much more difficult thing is to live wisely and beautifully – he said.
Fr. Ślusarczyk revealed, among the others, plans about which Helen had written when she was filling in a survey for airlines, for which she had worked as a flight attendant. As a long-term plan she wrote: ‘Holiness – as the final purpose’. He also quoted a poem by Helen which was written after her visit to the basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Referring to the divisions there, she wrote: ‘(…) God is wiping his eyes at his home:/ Why is there division not unity….’. Referring to this question and divisions in the world, Fr. Ślusarczyk noted: - Maybe it is worth reading the words of Helena at this coffin as a valuable testament? He appealed for ‘the spirit of unity, forgiveness and courage in building our future on the fundament of God’s truth and mutual love’. He emphasized that Poles should undertake this calling as a simple but demanding testament of ‘the young girl disciple of Christ’.
An example and an advocate
At the end of the funeral ceremony, bishop Reimann read out a letter of Bolivian bishops addressed to the Church in Poland: ‘We are mourning on what happened in Cochabamba and we are asking Jesus who died and resurrected for us, not to stop loving even those who are persecuting us (…)’. Bolivian bishops assured: ‘Love of Helen will accompany us forever, for it is impossible to bury love’. They emphasized that ‘for God’s people in the whole Church, and, particularly for the youth, Helen will remain a lively example of building love civilization’.
Also s. Savia Bezka from the Congregation of Sisters the Servant from Dębica, who was in Cochabamba when Helena Kmieć was murdered, spoke. She reminisced the last meeting with volunteers. – It was the night of an incredible event, a night of great pain and much more prayer – she said. – I am bringing a word: we are sorry for this innocent death, for this incomprehensible act of a young strayed man, entangled in evil at the same age as Helen – said s. Bezak. Speaking to the deceased volunteer, s. Savia said: - Helen, you are an example for the Bolivian youth who want to follow Christ and with Him according to your example. You are our advocate, therefore, we are asking you to intercede for us to God!
Fr. Filas SDS passed over four little crosses of the missionary volunteering during the ceremony. The first one was laid on the coffin of Helena. The second was given to her parents. Bishop Zając received the third little cross with a request to give it to the sanctuary of Divine Mercy as a sign of prayer for conversion of those who committed evil and mercy for them. The fourth little cross was given to the director of the Missionary Volunteering Salvator Fr. Mirosław Stanek SDS; he was asked to place it in the headquarter of the volunteering at the photo of Helen which will remind young people about her good life and an impulse to become better.
Bishop Zając thanked everybody for their participation in the funeral ceremony, and mainly for prayer. He quoted an entry of Helen on a CD on which her diploma recital had been registered: ‘To God who created me so wonderfully’. – Helen was aware of whom she was grateful for life, health and so many talents with which she was trying to serve to others, also with her joyful heart, simplicity and also the depth of spiritual richness – he emphasized. – On behalf of Helen and her whole family I want to thank God that He created her so wonderfully and let her multiply talents of her mind, willing, heart so that she could share them with others – said bishop Zając. Referring to the recent events, in which she had participated actively, he noted: - ‘Our common thanksgiving is a significant sign that the World Youth Days are still going on, are making wider and wider circles and are bringing blessed fruits through the clear testimony of life and martyr death of Helen.
After the Holy Mass the coffin with the body of deceased volunteer was moved in a procession to the commune graveyard near the church of St. Barbara in Libiąż.