Charismatic chaplain for the Polish community
The auxiliary bishop of Lublin Ryszard Karpinski was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland for ‘outstanding merits in pastoral service and promotion of national values among the Polish immigrants.’
The conferral of the distinction was held at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin on 26 April 2010. The medal, awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczynki, was given by Genowefa Tokarska, the Governor of Lublin and Elzbieta Kruk, MP. It was Rev. Prof. Stanislaw Wilk, the Rector of the Catholic University of Lublin, that presided over the special ceremony that was held during the First Lublin Days of Personalism. ‘We are awarding a man who has dedicated so many years of his life for the Polish community, service to our countrymen abroad’, said the rector. ‘Travels, meetings, speeches and words of encouragement; situation where you need to help people solve their problems were your daily activities on all continents where the Polish heart beats.’
Like St Paul the Apostle
In his laudatory speech Rev. Prof. Edward Walewander stressed the extraordinary personality of Bishop Karpinski, called a charismatic chaplain for the Polonia. Fr Walewander reminded the gathered the most important events of Bishop Karpinski’s life, focusing on those events that had prepared him to serve among the Polish immigrants. ‘During his studies in Rome the future chaplain of the Polish community gained the ‘Roman’ perspective of the world and knowledge of several foreign languages. Thanks to his skill of communication he unnoticeably became a liaison between Rome and Poles all over the world. When in 1985 Bishop Karpinski was appointed auxiliary bishop of Lublin he chose the image of a ship at sea and the motto ‘Bring help to people on the move’. Such features as friendliness, openness to priests and laity, need to help flowing from his heart or the skill to listen to people were especially useful during his various functions in the Church, including the position of the consultor of the Pontifical Commission for Pastoral Care for Migration and Tourism in Rome, the President of the Aid Team for Catholics in the East or the delegate of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for the Pastoral Care of the Immigrants. Bishop Karpinski conducted his apostleship all over the world like St Paul the Apostle’, Fr Walewander said. And he gave the impressive statistics: 175 visits including 75 as a delegate of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. ‘Everywhere he went he said that the Polish immigrants should preserve their Catholic faith and be faithful to God and their Homeland. He always stated that founding pastoral centres for immigrants was not a privilege but an obligation’, the laudator stressed.
On behalf of the Metropolitan of Lublin Bishop Mieczyslaw Cislo congratulated Bishop Karpinski, expressing his joy that his ‘efforts of bishop’s work for our countrymen in the world were noticed and appreciated.’ Bishop Cislo emphasized that ‘Bishop Karpinski fulfilled his service not out of obligation but apostolic passion.’
The laureate was greatly moved and stressed that he accepted this special distinction with great respect for the person of the President of the Republic of Poland and those who contributed to his being awarded the medal. ‘I am glad that in this way, priests, nuns and laymen who have cared for the spirit and faith of the nation on the different continents since the very beginning have been acknowledged. If they had not organised Polish schools at Polish Catholic missions the majority of Polish children would not have known their mother tongue and culture, not mentioning the faith. Consequently, it is the appreciation for the whole army of apostleship’, Bishop Karpinski said.