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Priest. Messenger of the Truth. Died for Religious Freedom. Future Saint. Do you know him?
Award-winning documentary reveals the modern true story of heroic Polish martyr
ATLANTA, April X, 2014 – Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko was the courageous chaplain of the Solidarity movement in Poland in the early 1980’s, and it was his strong faith, conviction and courage that mobilized a nation to stand against the communist regime there. The remarkable story of Father Jerzy, a 21st century hero of human rights who was murdered is 1984 by the Polish government, is told in the award-winning documentary Messenger of the Truth, which becomes available on DVD and public television beginning April 1.
Narrated by Catholic activist and actor Martin Sheen, Messenger of the Truth chronicles Father Jerzy’s opposition to Poland’s oppressive Communist leaders, who harassed, arrested, threatened, imprisoned and, eventually, murdered him for speaking the truth in a country full of propaganda, oppression and social injustice.
“A must-see documentary for all who believe in the rights of religious liberty, the dignity of the human person, and those who are lovers of freedom and defenders of the truth,” says His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York.
At Fr. Jerzy’s funeral, an estimated one million people surrounded his church in Warsaw and promised to continue his struggle for freedom through non-violence. Blessed Pope John Paul II, a son of Poland and advocate for the end of communism in his country and around the world, admired Fr. Jerzy’s courageous stand for freedom and truth. In 1987, shortly before the fall of communism in Poland, Pope John Paul II prayed at his gravesite in a remarkable sign of his support for the young priest’s life and death. Fr. Jerzy was beatified on June 6, 2010, in Warsaw and is expected to be canonized in the near future.
Messenger of the Truth was awarded first place in the documentary category at the 28th International Catholic Film Festival in Warsaw, Poland and will be awarded the Christopher Award for the category of TV documentary on May 15th from The Christophers at their 65th annual award gala in New York City.
The 90-minute documentary will air nationwide on American Public Television stations, with the first broadcast April 1 in Milwaukee, WI. Check your local listing for date and time.
To request a review copy of the documentary, or to schedule an interview with the spokespersons — Gary Chartrand, executive producer, or Father Remek Blaszkowski, who assisted in the production of the film — please contact Kevin Wandra (404-788-1276 or KWandra@CarmelCommunications.com) of Carmel Communications.
Gary Chartrand is a co-executive producer, along with his wife, Nancy, of MESSENGER OF THE TRUTH, a 90-minute feature documentary on Polish martyr and 21st century hero of human rights, Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko. He also is executive chairman of Acosta, a leading full-service sales and marketing agency that provides outsourced sales, merchandising, marketing and promotional services to manufacturers in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. He and his wife were motivated to produce the documentary following a memorable 2010 trip to Poland with their parish priest, Fr. Remek Blaszkowski. Nancy Chartrand is a first generation Polish American and grew up in a Polish community in Manchester, NH. Upon a visit to St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Warsaw, Chartrand noticed that a priest named Father Jerzy was buried in the front of the church. A museum dedicated to the life and martyrdom of Father Jerzy was located in the basement.
Chartrand had just finished writing Unreasonable Leadership, a business book focused on achieving extraordinary results through a dynamic leadership style. In his book, Chartrand praises unreasonable leaders as courageous, with strong convictions and the ability to change the status quo. Following his inspirational journey to this Church and through the museum, Chartrand believed Father Jerzy was the ultimate unreasonable leader because he was willing to stand for the truth and his convictions despite the tremendous personal cost. Nancy related to the strong unity and faithful prayer life of the Polish community.
One year later, Father Remek connected Chartrand with filmmaker, Paul Hensler, who owned the rights to the book The Priest and the Policeman: The Courageous Life and Cruel Murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko and wanted to produce a documentary based on the book. The Chartrands, passionate about telling the story of Father Jerzy, became the Executive Producers of MESSENGER OF THE TRUTH.
The Chartrand’s proceeds from the film will be donated to advancing Catholic education.
Chartrand reside in Ponte Vedra Beach with his wife and their two children, Jeffrey and Meredith.
Father Remek Blaszkowski’s Bio
Fr. Remek Blaszkowski is the Vice Rector and Dean of Human Formation at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Fla. He has been involved with the production MESSENGER OF THE TRUTH, a documentary film about Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko, since 2011. He has provided personal knowledge about history of Poland and Father Jerzy, as well as feedback during various stages of production.
Father Remek experienced a profound spiritual encounter with Father Jerzy at St. Stanislaw Church, where Father Jerzy is buried and a museum dedicated to honor him is located, during a pilgrimage to Poland in September 2010.
One year later, Father Remek connected Florida businessman Gary Chartrand with filmmaker Paul Hensler, who owned the rights to the book The Priest and the Policeman: The Courageous Life and Cruel Murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko and wanted to produce a documentary based on the book. Chartrand, passionate about telling the story of Father Jerzy, became the Executive Producer of MESSENGER OF THE TRUTH.
Since September 2010, Father Remek says he has experienced Father Jerzy’s friendship and intercession on many occasions. He has countless stories of “miracles” happening during the movie production in Poland. He also credits Father Jerzy for an intercession with vocations. During that time, Father Remek was appointed as a diocesan vocation director and prayed daily through Father Jerzy’s intercession for new candidates to the priesthood. In three years, Father Remek saw an increased in seminarians from five to 30.
Suggested Interview Questions
Suggested interview questions for Gary Chartrand:
- Why did you feel it’s important to create a documentary on the life of Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko?
- What motivated you to produce a documentary on the life of Father Jerzy?
- What traits did Father Jerzy possess that most impressed you?
- What lasting impact did Father Jerzy have on Poland and its people?
- What was Father Jerzy’s connection to Blessed Pope John Paul II, another prominent Catholic leader who challenged Communism?
- Father Jerzy was an advocate for religious freedom and the truth. What parallels, if any, do you see between what Father Jerzy experienced in Communist Poland and the current situation in the United States regarding the controversial Obamacare HHS mandate?
- How has the making of the documentary impacted you and your wife’s Catholic faith?
- Why should Catholics watch and support this documentary?
Suggested interview questions for Father Remek:
- You were born and raised in Poland. Why do you believe this is an important documentary for the Catholic Polish population?
- What role did you play in the production of the documentary?
- Why do you believe Father Jerzy was a messenger of the truth?
- What impact has Father Jerzy had on your life as a priest? Do you have a special devotion to him?
- Could you please explain the Solidarity movement, and why Father Jerzy believed it was important to take on its cause?
- What opposition did Father Jerzy face from the Communist regime in Poland?
- What could your fellow priests learn from the life of Father Jerzy?
- Fr. Frans van der Lugt, S.J, a priest working in Syria, was recently murdered. What parallels do you see occurring in Syria and around the world which place priests and other religious in danger of death?
- Father Jerzy was beatified on June 6, 2010, in Warsaw. What do you think the chances that he will become a saint in the near future?