Fr Zbigniew was born on July 3, 1958, in Tarnów, Poland. He grew up in the nearby village of Zawada. After finishing primary school, Zbigniew studied at a vocational technical secondary school for mechanical studies and for a year he worked in his field of training. He entered the Franciscan novitiate in 1979. During his studies at the seminary in Cracow, he participated in the establishment of the St Francis of Assisi Ecological Movement (REFA). Zbigniew Strzałkowski was ordained a priest in Wrocław on June 7, 1986. For two years, he was a tutor and vice chancellor at the Franciscan Minor Seminary in Legnica. He left Poland to serve as a missionary in Peru on November 30, 1988.
Zbigniew was a strong, courageous man, who cared for the sick. The desire to serve others was a result of his great faith and his wish to imitate St Maximilian Mary Kolbe. He successfully combined his organisational talent with hard work and a great sense of responsibility. Fr Zbigniew loved all creatures just like St Francis of Assisi.