Updated 05:52 AM EDT, Tue, Apr 20, 2021

Peru News: Three Missionary Priests Killed By Shining Path Guerrillas in 1991 Beatified

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Sixteen years after three missionary priests were killed by Shining Path guerrillas in Peru, the clergymen were beatified in Chimbote and considered to be the first beatified martyrs in the country.

ICN said the ceremony for the three missionary martyrs - Franciscan Polish priests, Zbigniew Strzałkowski, Michał Tomaszek and Italian priest, Alessandro Dordi, was attended by delegations from all dioceses in the country, as well as those from Poland and Italy.

According to an Associated Press report published by Star Tribune, an estimated 30,000 participated in the ceremony last Saturday, which was presided by Italian Cardinal, Angelo Amato.

In remembering the stories of the priests, ICN said Farther Zbigniew arrived in Peru in 1988 while Father Michael came to the country a year after.

"They worked in Pariacoto, a poor village in the Andes in the Peruvian Diocese of Chimbote. They were both tireless pastors. During a severe drought they helped the community build a water pipe network and brought them food through Caritas. Fr. Allessandro had served on the mission since 1980," added the same report.

The two priests from Poland, according to ABC News, were killed on the night of Aug. 19, 1991 after Mass in Pariacoto, a rural district in Peru. They were reportedly shot in the head then left for dead with signs dangling from their necks, tagging them "imperialist lackeys."

On the other hand, ICN noted that Father Dordi was ambushed and killed while he was on his way from  Mass and a baptism. The then 60-year-old priest was shot in the head and chest as he got off of his car.

In an article on Pastoral Centre, Fr. Jarosław Wysoczański was killed because the guerrillas "wanted to obliterate our current and long-term pastoral projects." But he claimed that despite the deaths, the lay people and the missionaries were not stopped. 

"God has His ways and the Cross of Christ is always life! It quickly became apparent that though the lay people were threatened by the terrorists, they would not abandon the Eucharist, but with greater enthusiasm they carried out their apostolic projects, growing in faith, even when the priests were not personally present among them," added Wysoczański.

On the other hand, the Catholic News Agency detailed that Father Dordi was committed to increasing literacy, defending the dignity of women, and sharing Christ's teachings to the people of Santa in Peru. But his work earned him the ire of the Shining Path rebels, who did everything to maintain their power.

The same report said that the Italian priest learned of the slay of the two Polish priests, which prompted him to pen a letter to his friend.

"We are particularly anxious and concerned these days. You have certainly learned that the Shining Path killed two priests of the Diocese of Chimbote on August 9. They were two Polish Franciscans who worked in a valley like mine," part of Father Dodi's letter read.

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