On March 24, the “Day of Prayer and Fasting in Memory of Martyrs” will be celebrated. This Day was established in 1993, as an initiative of the then Youth Missionary Movement (now Missionary Youth), on the anniversary of the assassination of St. Óscar Arnulfo ROMERO, Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador.
On this day, all missionaries killed because of their ministry during the year 2018 will be remembered. Prayer and fasting during this anniversary will help us reflect on our personal faith and commitment in proclaiming the Gospel.
To prepare for this day, the Friars Minor Conventual of Istanbul arranged a ceremony to bless an icon of the Blessed Martyrs of Peru: Michał TOMASZEK and Zbigniew STRZAŁKOWSKI who suffered martyrdom on August 9, 1991, in Pariacoto, Peru. Their liturgical feast day is June 7. Last year, the Secretary General for Mission Animation (SGAM), Friar Jarosław WYSOCZAŃSKI, visited Istanbul and spoke about the life and mission of our Blessed Martyrs. He was their Guardian in Peru when they were killed.
The blessing ceremony took place on March 15, 2019, and brought together friars from both communities in Istanbul: Büyükdere (Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and Beyoğlu (St. Anthony of Padua). It was an occasion to pray for the Order and to reflect on the Franciscan witness in Turkey.
The ceremony was presided over by the Minister General, Friar Marco TASCA, who at the time was a guest of the Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land in Turkey and Lebanon. He also blessed the icon. The icon was painted in Bulgaria and was a fraternal gift from the Provincial Delegation in Bulgaria.
According to a report by “Fides” (a press agency for the Pontifical Mission Societies), 40 missionaries were killed in 2018: 35 priests, 1 seminarian and 4 lay people. In 2017, by comparison, there were 23 deaths.
The friars of Istanbul are planning to celebrate the Third Sunday of Lent with the following motives in mind: to commemorate the missionaries, to offer a Lenten sacrifice for the intentions of the missionaries and to foster the rediscovery of missionary zeal in our friaries and Jurisdictions.
Friar Michał SABATURA