Pope Francis had just recently recognized, on December 18, 2013, the exemplarity of the life of Jerzy Ciesielski (12.02.1929 – 9.10.1970), who was among the first to welcome and spread the spirituality of the Focolare in Poland.
Born on February 12, 1929 in Krakow, Jerzy Ciesielski finishes his degree in Civil Engineering and, in 1957, he marries Danuta Plebaczyk. The marriage was blessed by Cardnal Karol Wojtyla who accompanied them in their spiritual growth. Three children are born, Maria, Caterina and Pietro. Jerzy met Wojtyla while he was still a student at the Polytechnic of Krakow, and then after gaining his doctorate and a teaching position as a university professor, he joins a group of intellectuals who, together with the Cardinal goes ahead with a cultural and spiritual formation.
In 1968, Jerzy comes into contact with the Focolare Movement. Impressed by the evangelical life saw beng lived among the members of the first community, he embraced the spirituality and, together with Dr. Giuseppe Santanché, an Italian focolarino who came from the GDR, they go to Card. Wojtyla with the request for his blessings on the growing Movement.
«He feels the call to give himself to God as a married focolarino in the summer of 1969, after a ‘week long vacation’ in Zakopane, a tourist spot in the Tatra mountains»: recalled Anna Fratta, a focolarina doctor who was a direct witness of some of the human and spiritual events in the life of Jerzy. The “week long holiday” was a clandestine Mariapolis……
An incident at the river Nile in Sudan, on the 9th of October 1970, took Jerzy and his children Caterina and Pietro away.
Karol Wojtyla presided at the funerals; becoming the Pope, in the book entitled “Going beyond the threshold of peace”, he described Jerzy as a young man who decisively hoped for sanctity. «This was the programme of his life – wrote John Paul II. He knew that he was “created for great things”, but, at the same time, he did not have any doubts that his vocation was not the priesthood or the religious life».
Wojtyla, in his writing, particularly highlights how matrimony and family life were considered by the young man as the answer to a call of God; and so were his professional committment, lived as service.