Last weekend we joined the universal church in celebrating the beatification of the Martyrs of Peru, Franciscan friars: Fr. Michal Tomaszek and Fr. Zbigniew Strzalkowski, and Fr. Alessandro Dordi.
The two Franciscan missionaries worked in the Andes, in Peru, with great enthusiasm, strong in faith and full of love. They devoted themselves to the difficult task of taking care of the parish of Pariacoto, besides working in several villages. Wherever the two men worked they left the memory of their "Franciscan brand": humility, poverty, kindness, ability to compromise for the good, the tenacity of community life.
On August 9, 1991 a commando of twenty guerrillas, who were part of the revolutionary organization “Sendero Luminoso,” entered the village, raided the monastery and kidnapped Fr. Michal and Fr. Zbigniew. Soon after, after a brief trial, the two missionaries were killed in the countryside nearby, the place that they themselves called "San Damiano," where they often went to pray.
The Polish priests were friends with Father Dordi who had been a missionary in the Chimbote Diocese since 1980. Previously, Father Dordi had ministered to Italian immigrants in Switzerland and served as a worker-priest in Swiss watch factories. Thus, Father Dordi knew the concerns of the working class.
In Peru, Father Dordi served in the Santa parish. Like Fathers Strzałkowski and Tomaszek, he was committed to his parishioners; he was particularly devoted to Santa’s farmers, helping to implement rural development programs. As soon as Father Dordi learned about his Polish-Franciscan friends’ fate, he kept telling his closest collaborators that he knew he would be next. However, he declined his bishop’s offers to return to Italy.
Subsequently, the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) considered Father Dordi a threat, too. On Aug. 25, 1991, when he was returning from a chapel in the diocese to baptize children and celebrate Mass, the communists set up an ambush. After Father Dordi left his car, they shot him.
The words of Jesus Christ are therefore fulfilled in the martyrdom of these three men: "unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit" (Jn 12, 24).