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Cause for canonization opened for young Polish lay missionary killed in Bolivia

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Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Krakow announced on April 14, 2024, the decision to begin the process of beatification and canonization of Helena Agnieszka Kmiec, a young lay missionary murdered in Bolivia in 2017. / Credit: The Helena Kmiec Foundation

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 19, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski of Krakow, Poland, announced the decision to begin the process of beatification and canonization of Helena Agnieszka Kmiec, a young lay missionary murdered in Bolivia in 2017.

The prelate said that after the preliminary phase began in December 2022, he made the decision to officially open the process for Kmiec after having consulted the Polish Bishops’ Conference and receiving the go-ahead from the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.

“With this edict I call on all those who have any document, letter, or information about the Servant of God, both positive and negative, to send them to the Metropolitan Curia of Krakow before June 30,” the archbishop stated.

The edict opening the cause was published April 14 and will be read in all the parishes and chapels in Krakow on Sunday, April 21. 

Who was Helena Kmiec?

Servant of God Helena Agnieszka Kmiec was born on Feb. 9, 1991, in Krakow. She was the second daughter of Jan Kmiec and Agnieszka Bejska. Her mother died just a few weeks after she was born.

Her father later married Barbara Zając, and Kmiec was raised “in a home full of love, warmth, and, above all, deep faith,” the edict noted.

Beginning in 1998, she attended primary and secondary schools run by the Association of Catholic Educators in Libiąż, Poland. She then spent two years on a scholarship in the United Kingdom. From 2009–2014 she studied engineering at the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice, Poland.

The edict noted that Kmiec went “to holy Mass almost every day while she was a student, which for her was a very important time of the day.”

At the university, she learned about the Salvator Missionary Volunteer Service of the Congregation of Salvatorian Priests and became one of their missionaries. In 2012 she went to Hungary to run a summer camp for children; in 2013 she was sent to Zambia, where she worked with street children; and in 2014 she went to Romania, where she served young people.

Before being sent on one of these missions, Kmiec wrote: “I received the grace of God, … the gift freely given to give to others, and I have to share this gift! All the skills I have, the abilities I acquire, the talents I develop, are not meant to serve me, but so that I can use them to help others.”

“The greatest gift is that I know God and I can’t keep it to myself, I have to spread it! If I can help someone, make them smile, make them happier, teach them something, then I want to do it,” she added.

Murdered in Bolivia

On Jan. 8, 2017, Kmiec began volunteering in Bolivia, where she planned to stay six months. Just days after her arrival, on Jan. 24, she was murdered at Edmundo Bojanowski School, which is run by the Congregation of the Servants of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Pacata neighborhood of Cochabamba.

According to reports, two criminals entered the school to rob the place and were surprised by the young woman. One of them attacked her with a knife, killing her.

Kmiec was 26 years old when she died on her last volunteer mission with Salvator.

After her death, the edict related, “her reputation for a holy life and dedication to God and the Church spontaneously arose among the faithful. Many people prayed and continue to pray for her intercession.”

The edict concluded by noting that “the example of the Servant of God can certainly be an inspiration for people — especially young people — to pursue their vocation to holiness with great passion and commitment through volunteering and missionary activity.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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