Living monument with beating hearts
Fr Pawel Rozpiatkowski
There are various kinds of monuments, some built of steel, some of epoxyde resin or simple clay. Every monument is affected by time. After years bronze takes on a patina, steel is attacked by corrosion, resin is destroyed by a drunken hooligan and clay is destroyed by water and frost. The best monument is a living one, made of people since although it sometimes dies it will be resurrected.
It is true that living monuments to John Paul II are the so-called papal oaks, i.e. trees from the acorns of the oldest Polish oak Chrobry, which John Paul II blessed in 2004. But this is only a metaphor. The biggest living monument to John Paul II is the Foundation 'The Work of the New Millennium'.
To help them resolve difficulties
The Foundation is for people, for those who are not well off. As a lecture at the Catholic University of Lublin, John Paul II gave his salary to scholarships for his students. As far as education is concerned children and youth coming from small towns experience difficulties. 'I think there is no evidence that rural children are less intelligent and talented than urban children; I have not found any evidence anywhere', said ice-minister of agriculture Andrzej Kowalski in 2005 during a meeting of the senate commission on education. 'The difference is that they often have no possibilities and conditions to develop their talents. Why? There are many reasons. In small centres it is difficult to start education earlier because rural nursery schools were closed. What was the effect? Pre-school education in rural areas embraces fewer children than in urban areas. Another evidence is mysteriously defined as 'factor of awareness'. Although here we can see some progress, one can even speak of a rapid progress, but the differences are still very big as compared with urban centres. The thing is that citizens of urban areas are more aware of the necessity to invest in education than citizens of rural areas. That concerns both parents and children. Although rural families spend more and more money on education their means cannot be compared with salaries in bigger centres. The first obstacle is lack of money for books and other equipments, for boarding schools, transport, etc. The official data show that two million children live in families whose income is beyond the poverty line. Parents want their children to go to school but very often these are only their desires because they cannot afford it. 'If the educational aspirations of Polish youth, including rural youth, are fulfilled, if the education system meets the demands, we will see a complete reverse of the social structure in Poland', predicts Prof. Krystyna Szafraniec, Nikolaus Copernicus University in Torun.
It is worth counting on them
The first scholarships of 'The Work of the New Millennium' were given to pupils living in the poorest regions in Poland, in the Dioceses of Drohiczyn, Elk, Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, Przemysl and Radom. Later the youth from other parts of Poland received help. Today those who received help form a small army of people who have means to study and whom the teaching of John Paul II influences.
- Perhaps thanks to our help there will appear another Chopin, Einstein or Konopnicka, the late Bishop Jan Chrapek used to say. It is worth counting on them.