Mexico – 80th anniversary of “Little Poland” in León

15 November 2023

(ANS – León) – On Saturday 4 November 2023, the Niños Don Bosco Project (PNDB) celebrated the 80th anniversary of the arrival of the first Polish refugees in Santa Rosa Plan de Ayala, near Léon, in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. The event included an elaborate ceremony, with several significant moments and several inaugurations attended by a total of more than 130 people.

The event was called “unforgettable and unique” for its willingness to celebrate and honour the history of welcome and hospitality that manifested itself when 1,453 Polish citizens from 1943-1947, fleeing from the monstrosities of the Second World War and the Soviet regime, found refuge there. They were welcomed by a friendly and empathetic population, but found themselves forced to live inside a refugee camp set up at the Tenuta Santa Rosa, now known as “Little Poland”.

The refugee camp as such was officially closed on 31 December 1946. Subsequently, Mr. Rafael González Muñiz, owner of the estate, donated the property to the León Diocese, which in turn converted it into a children’s centre. In 1960, at the request of the local bishop, Bishop Manuel Martín del Campo y Padilla, it was entrusted to the Salesian Congregation.

To commemorate the anniversary, a solemn multi-stage ceremony was held, opened by an athletic competition that saw about 130 young people of different age groups compete.

The institutional phase then began. Its illustrious guests included Dr. Alejandra Gutiérrez, Mayor of León; Fr Filiberto González, SDB, Provincial of the Salesians in Mexico-Guadalajara (MEG); Fr José Antonio Gutiérrez, SDB, Director of the Niños Don Bosco Project; Mr Maciej Ziętara, Polish Ambassador to Mexico; Priot Poplawski, Director of the Institute of Polish Memory; Ms Valentina Grycuk, Representative of the Mexican-Polish community; and Dr Lisette Ahedo, Director General of the Cultural Institute of León.

On the occasion, the Polish Ambassador and the Mayor of León unveiled the commemorative plaque for this 80th anniversary and also rewarded the young winners of the athletics competition.

In addition, the Santa Rosa estate Museum was inaugurated, where the history of the Polish presence in the place and the hospitality of the local population in time of need is recalled and shared on the walls of the former refugee camp. This space allows visitors to delve into the details and experiences of those times, honouring the memory of those who found refuge and welcome there. It represents a tangible testimony of the generosity and solidarity that continue to distinguish the spirit of this community.

As part of the anniversary celebration the young people’s music ensemble from Ciudad del Niño, a Salesian work, performed; also launched was the book Santa Rosa: La pequeña Polonia. 80 años de hospitalidad leonesa (Santa Rosa: Little Poland. 80 years of hospitality in León), by José Luis Palacios.

To conclude the day, guests attended the opening of the Anna Szkutnik de Cabrero computer centre and the General Wladyslaw Sikorski virtual classroom, a centre designed to give young people access to robotics through audiovisual and interactive content. Special thanks went to the Polish Embassy in Mexico for its support in the implementation of this project.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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