May 24, 2008 marked a history in the Company of the Daughters of Charity in the Lviv Archdiocese, the entire universal Church, and the hearts of many who participated in the beatification of Sr Marta Wiecka in Lviv. It was a beautiful celebration, a confirmation that sanctity is attainable regardless of duties, place, nationality, and age.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the beatification of Blessed Marta as well as the 14th altar boys’ day. The main celebrations took place in Lviv on 1 June; on that day the Lviv diocese held an assembly of clergy and consecrated people on the premises of Lviv’s Seminary in Brzuchowice, presided by Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki. The programme included a conference on Blessed Marta Wiecka and her service to persons who are poor in body and soul, which was delivered and presented by Sr Anna Brzęk: “…We are in a time of war. So many people are suffering, so many people are threatened. It needs generosity to see Christ in the other person; in that person we help. Today we have many people who are wounded materially, who have lost everything, but also wounded spiritually. When we help refugees and when we help one another, we must do so in a spirit of respect, without humiliating anyone. There is a need for this kind of help, very discreet, that uplifts, that puts people on their feet and does not overwhelm or depress them. This is how Sister Marta acted.”
At the same time, another conference on Blessed Sr Marta was given by Sr Mariana Agalarova to the 400 altar boys from all over the Diocese of Lviv, pointing out the one who was able to give her life, to sacrifice it. She is an example of heroism for generations today, a value deeply needed especially now, with the ongoing war in Ukraine. The gathering culminated with a Eucharist presided by Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki.
The main celebration of the translation of the relics of Blessed Marta Wiecka to the Cathedral of Lviv began with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and a reflection on the virtues of faith, hope and love in the life and ministry of Sr Marta, prepared by our Sisters who minister to those who are poor in Ukraine. The Eucharist, presided by Bishop Witalij Skomarowski, President of the Ukrainian Episcopal Conference, began with the introduction of the reliquary by Sister Anna Pietrasik, Visitatatrix of the Cracow Province and a message from Father Bogdan Zapotoczny, Director of the Daughters of Charity, Cracow Province. The homily was given by Msgr Mieczysław Mokrzycki; he spoke about the testimony at the resting place of the mortal remains of Blessed Marta in the village of Śniatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region. “…Here, there is never a shortage of flowers and there are always candles burning, here people of different faiths pray, coming to ask for the intercession of the one who was called ‘mother’ during her lifetime, although she was not even 30 years old at the time of her death.”
The Lviv Bishop emphasised that the life of Blessed Marta showed the love of Jesus for people and was an instrument of God among people, she became a sign of God who is Love: “Today’s evangelical vision fits perfectly into the story of Blessed Marta Wiecka’s voluntary self-sacrifice out of love for Jesus, whose relics we brought to our Cathedral on the 15th anniversary of her beatification. (…) May the presence of Blessed Marta’s relics be an occasion for fervent prayer so that we too may be caught up by Jesus, so that in the midst of war we too may become a sign of love, peace and reconciliation.”
The faithful gathered for the ceremony were able to venerate the relics after the Eucharist. During this time, an Akathist hymn was sung in honour of Blessed Marta by the Sisters of Charity of the Eastern rite (from a congregation founded in Belgium in 1837, promoted in Lviv by Metropolitan Andrzej Szeptycki).
Among the many guests were the Vincentians, with the Visitator of the Vice-Province of Cyril and Methodius, Fr Leonid Kuklyshyn, the clergy of nearby parishes, numerous faithful and our Sisters serving in the Ukrainia – from the Provinces of Cracow, Chełmno-Poznań and Slovakia.
An important highlight in the celebration was the opening of an open-air exhibit in front of the Cathedral, showing the different stages of the life of the young Daughters of Charity of the Cracow Province, the memorable day of beatification and the day of thanksgiving in Śniatyn, and the important stages of the peregrination of the Blessed’s relics throughout the parishes in Ukraine. May God be glorified in His blessed and holy ones; may He be glorified for the gifts and graces that He continues to grant through the intercession of Blessed Marta Wiecka; may He be glorified for the wonderful, solemn moments of the celebrations experienced! They unite us once again in a deepened faith and a desire to belong completely to Christ who gave Himself, so that we, too, may do the same today!