Visiting Poles in Naples
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Fr Stanislaw Iwanczuk, member of the Society of Christ Fathers, is working in Italy. And he invited the editorial board of 'Niedziela' to come and meet Polish people in his Italian pastoral centre. Our visit was on 18-20 May 2007. Fr Stanislaw is a young and zealous priest. He has lived in the house of the Lazarists Fathers, so he has been involved in their community, too. But his basic mission is working with Polish immigrants, whose number is rapidly growing - recently there have been about 15,000 Poles in the region of Naples. We talked to those who came to pastoral meetings. They all told us that they could not imagine their lives abroad without a Polish priest. Indeed, Polish priests have always been important to those who leave their homeland; sometimes they are the only friends and advisers.
Fr Stanislaw, rooted in the religious community, is internally 'ordered' and that's why, he can give the faithful unique guidelines how to live and behave. First of all, he is a priest for Polish immigrants and he wants to serve them in an authentic way. He saw his great work. He showed us the books of those involved in the Polish community in Naples and reports of his pastoral activities. I admired his great precision in formulating and realizing various programmes. He has conducted a systematic ministry as well as spiritual and cultural work. Apart from providing religious education for children and adults as well as teaching Polish language, history and geography, he organised courses of Italian and English. Those activities required wide perspectives and solid preparations. We also witnessed Polish examination taken by children from the Polish mission school (called John Paul II School). The examination was carried before the commission of the pastoral centre from Rome. They succeeded and we could see very ardent young teachers who selflessly worked with Polish children in Naples, devoting their free time to them, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. These were: Danuta Koguciuk, Jnaina Durda, Joanna Tomasik, Joanna Pajak, Madgalena Ros, Elzbieta Pietrzak and Katarzyna Malek. They give a wonderful testimony of faith and patriotism.
However, those Poles who came to meet us, would like to alert other fellow citizens to danger of the atmosphere for immigrants in that region, which was not good. And many Polish women who had married Italians were not very happy in their relationships. The cultural differences are often too big. So one should warn young girls who have relationships with Italian men or some other foreign men to be careful. Polish immigrants should look for Polish pastoral centres, maintain contacts with priests, come to ask their advice and tell them about their problems and troubles. Priests can protect the values rooted in families, remind of God's commandments and above all, give moral support. One should remember about these things now because later it may be too late.
Our visit to Naples shows that Polish centres need dedicated shepherds and Polish immigrants need contacts with the Church. Catholic press can bring valuable help in pastoral centres abroad. Pastoral work with immigrants will be needed for a long time since it carries Polish thought, culture and tradition.