See documentary ‘Messenger of The Truth’ in Edwards | VailDaily.com

See documentary ‘Messenger of The Truth’ in Edwards

EDWARDS — Blessed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko told the truth in a country mired in lies.

It cost him his life, but he changed the world.

The 37-year-old Polish priest was murdered by the communists for speaking out and helping launch the trade union Solidarity in the 1980s.

At his funeral, an estimated 1 million people surrounded his church in Warsaw, promising to continue his struggle for freedom through non-violence. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa said, "Rest in peace, Father Jerzy. Solidarity is alive because you gave your life for it."

Gary and Nancy Chartrand made a documentary about Father Jerzy's short but remarkable life.

St. Clare of Assisi is screening the film at 6 p.m. today in the Edwards Interfaith Chapel. Gary will be there for a Q&A afterward.

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"He strongly believed in non-violence and the ability of the Polish people to make positive changes in a peaceful manner," said Gina Demarest, St. Clare's development director.

Father Jerzy is in the process of becoming a saint, Demarest said.

"The message behind the film will appeal to people of all denominations," Demarest said.

Solidarity's roots

When the Solidarity trade union was formed in 1980, Father Jerzy stood with the workers, becoming their chaplain. When Solidarity was outlawed and his friends were jailed, Father Jerzy picked up their banner and carried on, continuing to speak about freedom and human rights from his Warsaw pulpit.

He was a beacon of hope in the darkest days of martial law and, after 40 years of oppression, his message of truth was devoured by the Polish people. Thousands, then tens of thousands came from all over Poland to hear him speak and every month the crowd grew, bringing the Secret Police closer and closer to his door.

He was harassed, arrested, threatened and imprisoned, but he would not be silenced. His friends suggested that he leave Poland for his own safety.

He replied, "My place is with the people."

On Oct. 19, 1984, three secret policemen kidnapped Father Jerzy on the way to Warsaw. He was viciously beaten, bound and on Nov. 3, 1984, thrown into the Vistula River.

About the filmmakers

Gary Chartrand is the executive chairman of acosta sales and marketing. He helped raise more than $70 million dollars for the support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. In 2004, he started a similar campaign for America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest food bank network.

Nancy Chartrand earned her teaching degree from the University of New Hampshire.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

If You Go …

What: “Messenger of The Truth,” a documentary about Polish priest, Blessed Father Jerzy Popiełuszko.

Where: Edwards Interfaith Chapel.

When 6 p.m. Friday.

Cost: Free.

More information: Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko was a driving force in the creation of the Solidarity movement in Poland, and was murdered by the communists. Gary Chartrand made a documentary about him. Chartrand will be on hand for a Q&A after the film. Go to http://www.messengerofthetruth.com or http://www.stclarecatholicschool.com.