Young people of the new millennium
Dear young people! Christ counts on you! Accept his challenge; fulfil the task responsibly. Do it at once. Do not put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Learn to use verbs in present tenses, the verbs that will give contents to your involvement since this is the only way to participate in building better future. (John Paul II)
Ordinary people and at the same time exceptional ones. Talented, intelligent, full of zeal, plans and dreams. Brought up in villages and small towns, they come from families having financial problems. They live like other people do but the quality of their lives is different. They do not accept mediocrity concerning themselves and their lives. They are the young people of the new millennium. What united them? They have received the scholarships of the Foundation ‘Work of the New Millennium’ (FDNT).
Another Papal Day evokes this subject since one of the aims of the Day, apart from popularising the teaching of the Polish Pope and keeping him in our memories, is to build a living monument to John Paul II. Its real builder is the Foundation ‘Work of the New Millennium’, the monument is the beneficiaries: young people coming from almost all parts of Poland. Firstly, let us write about the Foundation. ‘Its initiator was the Holy Father John Paul II himself who during his pilgrimage to Poland eight years ago, focused on the necessity to help numerous poor and needy people whose lives were broken after the transformations of 1989. It was then that the bishops, together with a group of Catholic laymen, decided to initiate a foundation that would support in the long term talented young people, coming from the regions inflicted with high unemployment as well as economic and often cultural delay,’ explains Fr Dariusz Kowalczyk, Vice-Chairman of the Foundation Board.
Currently, 1,800 people receive help. These are students attending gymnasia and grammar schools as well as universities. Scholarships can be given to second graders in gymnasia who obtain at least the average grade 4.8, sometimes the average grade can be lower but this concerns these pupils who have unique achievements in concrete subjects. Additional requirements? The place of living: villages and towns up to 20,000 inhabitants and the income for every family member: below the 0.7 per cent national average. Every year the Foundation, together with the University of Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University, organise the Bishop Jan Chrapek Academic Contest and its winners can study journalism and social politics at these universities. With several other universities the Foundation organises similar contest for law studies. And now we will speak about students.
The help of the Foundation means scholarships of over 3,000 zloty a year in three packages: social, scientific and material. One should mention that we all support the Foundation on the Papal Day. Giving even the smallest sums we support the scholarship holders and we place our trust in them. ‘In the difficult moments the awareness that someone believes in me gives me strength. So I try not to let people down, people thanks to whom I receive my scholarship,’ says Monika Lisowska from Gilow in the region of Swietokrzyskie, student of the second year of law at Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. For the scholarship holders the help of the Foundation means a concrete financial support without which they will not be able to study and fulfil their future plans. They usually use their scholarships on food, rent, books or foreign language courses. Thanks to the scholarships the time, which they would spend earning their living, can be used for their development; they often begin other studies. Apart from the financial support the Foundation cares for their spiritual growth of the scholarship holders. Fr Dariusz stresses that the holders take part in the formation based on the papal teaching directed to young people and they also attend various pastorally tested youth meetings, embracing prayer, sacramental life, spiritual direction and mutual interpersonal interaction.
Those who receive the support of the Foundation agree that commitment to hard work at university and doing one’s best not to let those who have invested in them goes hand in hand with financial help. Daria Wackermann, who began her way with the Foundation two years ago, thinks that her scholarship means her commitment to be responsible for the future of the society. She is convinced that she and other scholarship holders will try to return through her work and other activities for the good, trust and hope, which the sponsors put in them. Looking at the lives of the scholarship holders one can see that they do not wait till they graduate and achieve something but they have already got involved in various activities. Daria, student of the third year of journalism at the University of Warsaw, coordinates the activities of the press office of the Foundation, helps to organise the Papal Days. She remembers her local community where she was the commander of the women’s team of the Voluntary Fire Brigade Trumpeters, and today she helps to organise concerts and sometimes she is even a speaker at local football matches.
Katarzyna Puchacz also belongs to the volunteers helping the Foundation. She came to Warsaw from Siedliska near Zamosc two years ago. She won the Bishop Jan Chrapek Contest and began studying social politics at Faculty of Journalism and Political Sciences of the University of Warsaw. A year ago she began studying law at the University of Warsaw. She won many medals in orienteering. Since the very beginning of her wonderful adventure with the Foundation, as she says herself, she has helped to organise the Papal day and promoted other events of the Foundation in the media. She has worked in the Office for Promotion and Information. Her work concerns the web page www.dzielo.pl. She tells us about her activities, ‘Although no one forces me to do that I know that this is one of the few ways I can express my gratitude for the help I am receiving.’
What about talents?
The scholarship holders are not the only volunteers helping in the Foundation. Their concern is not only themselves and their growth but they do their best to use the talents and skills God gave them to serve others. Radoslaw Janica from Dlugopole Dolne wants to witness as an example of human being and Catholic. He has belonged to the Liturgical Service of the Altar for years and now he is a master of ceremony. He tries to be active, help others, be an altruist and thus enjoy his life. He combines his studies of journalism and social communication at the Jagiellonian University (second year of studies) with his voluntary work in Wroclaw’s Angelus Silesius Meeting House, which is an educational centre where young educators, project coordinators, collaborators and volunteers work for the cause of the youth. Monika finds satisfaction and happiness in helping others knowing that what she does is good. She admits that thanks to her voluntary work she becomes a better human being. Her passion is scouting and its ideals are hers. The Saint Nicholas Foundation, which examines and solves the effects of the crisis of solidarity with the needy, is the place of involvement of Krystian Szczesny from Jozefow in Mazowsze, second year student of journalism and political sciences at the University of Warsaw. He also participates in many projects connected with the person of John Paul II, including the Papal Days.
The Foundation is not only an institution that supports people financially but also an institution that gives possibilities of new contacts and friendships with people who think and feel the same. Radek defines it in an accurate way, ‘Being a member of the Foundation lets me have friends in almost every part of Poland. They form as if a detailed map of Poland, they are its specific longitudes and latitudes, which makes the country smaller.’ Andrzej Galecki from Miedzna, the Diocese of Drohiczyn, student of the third year of electronics at the Warsaw Polytechnic, confesses that after he come to Warsaw he feared if he would not manage on his own in the big city. But soon he met people from the Foundation and thanks to them he is not alone. He has felt secure. It is the community of the Foundation that gives him strength. Daria also says that thanks to the Foundation she has found true friends, ‘Every meeting with a scholarship holder is valueless since these people have ‘great hearts’, are very sensitive to other people’s needs; they want to get to know the world and at the same time they are very humble because they know they benefit from other people’s generosity.
Their plans vary because scholarship holders are different. Monika would like to be a good person and a good Catholic and in a few years she would like to realise that she did not waste her life and lose her ideals. Krystian wants to become a journalist and photographer and would like to write on social-economic problems, and improve his photographic skills. Kasia does her best to feel that she has found fulfilment; she feels satisfied that she has used every moment of her life to the full. Andrzej simply wants to be a good Catholic and would like to serve people.
It is worth reading what Fr Dariusz Kowalczyk, who looks after the scholarship holders, says, ‘They are wonderful: kind, intelligent, eager to work, hungry for spiritual growth, full of big plans, aiming at high values. The mood of the camps is so good that it is hard to leave. The camps are full of prayers, humour, joy and serious discussions, and crazy ideas and collaboration… hard to describe all things. You can sum it up by quoting a statement uttered by one of the directors of the halls of residence where the students lived, ‘Father, I have recovered my faith in young people after 32 years of work.’
Daria: ‘The requirements of the Pope are not easy and actually they are hard to meet. However, one should try, especially that the scholarship holders of the Foundation are said to be ‘living monuments of John Paul II.’
Andrzej: ‘He is someone very unique for me. I am happy that I could live in the time he walked this land.’
Katarzyna: ‘For me he is a teacher, the evidence that it is worth trying to be a better man.’
Radoslaw: ‘He shows me the way and I regard him as the greatest authority. I am learning to have his patience and humility.’