IN LOVE WITH POLAND
ŁUKASZ KRZYSZTOFKA, MAGDALENA KOWALEWSKA
The youth, among the others, from Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Brazil, France, Greece, Spain, Germany, Norway, Paraguay, Russia, Ukraine, the USA, Uzbekistan, Great Britain and Italy arrived at the capital city. All of them were greeted and given accommodation by Warsaw families. The main place of the meetings was a Retreat House of the Archdiocese of Warsaw ‘A good place’ in the neighbourhood of the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński.
The young a salt of the earth
The young Poles were accompanied by priests of the Church in Poland. The Holy Mass for the congress inauguration in the church of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Mary the Virgin in Wrzecion was presided over by cardinal Kazimierz Nycz. – You, young people, are aware that you want to be the salt of this earth, the light of this world. You do not want to be a sweeter or you do not want somebody to give you this sweetener within preparations, formation, leading you – said the metropolitan of Warsaw in his homily. The primate of Poland, archbishop Wojciech Polak was encouraging participants of the congress to get succumb to the Holy Spirit and open up to His acting. In the sanctuary of St. Stanisław Kostka in Rostków, the Holy Mass was presided over by bishop Piotr Libera, the Ordinary of Płock. In the homily the hierarch referred to the idea of vocation in the context of the 74th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. He reminded the youth of a rota of the uprising vow which was paid by young people going for the uprising. Whereas the tragedy of the Warsaw Uprising, whose signs have been visible till today on Warsaw streets was presented in the sanctuary of St. Faustyna at Żytnia street in Warsaw by bishop Marek Solarczyk, an auxiliary bishop of Warsaw. – On Wola there is a monument commemorating civilian inhabitants of this district who were murdered bestially on the first days of the uprising. At that time a few dozen thousand people were killed. How many secrets of faith and how much call for sense were in it! – said bishop Solarczyk. Also archbishop Grzegorz Ryś, the metropolitan of Łódź met with the youth to tell them how important the testimony is and what real and effective evangelization is based on. The whole time the youth was being accompanied by bishop Wiesław Lechowicz, the chairperson of the Commission of the Polish Episcopal Conference for Polish Diaspora Abroad.
President and the Speaker of Seym to the youth
Letters to participants of the congress were sent by President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda and the Speaker of Seym Marek Kuchciński. ‘We are related together with a great heroic history and ideals of freedom, justice and solidarity deriving from the Gospel and Decalogue – this everyday inter-human one and the one which is the basis for peace and cooperation among nations’ – president Duda wrote in his message. The Speaker of Seym, Stanisław Karczewski, present at the congress inauguration, thanked the young for remembering about Homeland ‘of their fathers and grandfathers’ and was encouraging participants to exchange their experiences, share their concerns together and ‘to get in love with Poland more and more’.
The congress is also connected with the 100th anniversary of regaining independence by Poland, hence organizers had planned a lot of meetings in the patriotic character, among the others, participation in the ceremonies of the 74th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, singing patriotic songs on PIłsudski square or a trip on the route of St. Stanisław Kostka to Rostków and Pułtusk.
He was a witness of Jesus
The purpose of the congress is making young people aware that they are to be not only disciples but also witnesses of Jesus. The idea of the event is to make the youth a kind of embers which evangelically kindles hearts of our compatriots living abroad – emphasized bishop Lechowicz.
During the first three days young Poles had an opportunity to participate in specially prepared evangelical workshops, during which they were developing and sharing their faith with people at their age. They were supposed, among the others, by giving the features of a real man as a son, bridegroom, father and a fighter – to point to a saint who corresponds to this characteristics. – We chose St. Maksymilian Kolbe because he was somehow a bridegroom of Mary, set up Niepokalanów and Knighthood of Immaculate Mary. It seems to me that he is a person having all features of a real man the most – said Maciej Maciejewski from Nottingham in England. In his opinion, the greatest challenge for young Poles living there is strengthening faith, going out to people and maintaining a relation with Poland. – In my parish we meet together in a group of the young Polish diaspora, in a group of our friends and we talk on various topics – religious and also the ordinary ones, connected with everyday life. There are quite a lot of us and we are trying to keep in touch, cooperate ahd help one another. This is our purpose as a community: to be together and be the second family there, abroad – he said.
Belief and work
The motto of the congress ‘Vocation in faith’ points to two dimensions of a mature attitude of a Christian. – A man who experiences grace of faith, also experiences that it has got a kind of direction. It is not all about being a believer, representing some values but also active living, creating, acting to this direction – explained Fr. Zbigniew Kucharski, a director of the Youth Information Agency MAIKA. He added that after return from the first congress which was held in 2016, the youth undertook what had happened during it, in their countries which was proved by the youth travelling from Poland to invitations of particular communities abroad. – These travels were aimed at presenting young people what we do, how we work in order to speak not only to participants of the congress, but also in their local environments, get to a bigger group of people with what happens at the congress, and what this youth can do and represents – said Fr. Kucharski.
They worshipped fighting Warsaw
The second part of the congress had educational-patriotic character. The day before the 74th anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, young Poles participated in the Holy Mass on the Krasińscy Square in the intention of the alive and deceased participants of the uprising. The Holy Mass was presided over by the field bishop of the Polish army Józef Guzdek. Next day they were praying at the ‘W’ hour on the Warsaw graveyard Powązki, whereas in the evening, together with tens of thousands of Warsaw inhabitants they were singing songs about the uprising on PIłsudski Square. On the route of their wandering, there was, certainly, the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising. Participants of the congress were also hosted in the Presidential Palace where the minister Adam Kwiatkowski met with them. The representatives of the President of the Republic of Poland expressed his hope that he was looking at the future leaders of the Polish Diaspora life who would take over their responsibility for developing Polishness and would remember about what unites Poles – about love to Homeland supported by Church, school and, first of all, by families.
We are a unity
The meetings in groups of people of the same age from other countries were strengthening the congress participants’ Catholic and Polish identity. – At the congress we can meet together and see that despite being spread all over the world, we are a unity. This is an unusual experience – said Władymir Wierdzynin from Uzbekistan. He discovered his religious and national identity from God’s inspiration. – My grandma told me about Poland very little, only later did I realize what my roots were, that I am a Pole. I was baptized five years ago and felt that I was where I was supposed to be. I began to learn Polish and I feel that this is my language – said Władymir, who has been studying in Lublin for three years. He thinks that the Warsaw Uprising was a great fight of Warsaw inhabitants in defence of the Polish culture and Catholic faith. – It is very important to me and it is necessary to defend our culture and our identity. When I arrived at Poland, I had already known something about the uprising, but only during the congress did I get to know more. I was really astonished that on 1 August at 5 p.m. the whole city stops for a minute. This touched me a lot – he admitted.
During the congress the youth participated also in journalistic workshops run by a journalist of ‘Niedziela’ Karolina Mysłek.
Young Poles are not ashamed of speaking about their love to Poland and its beautiful history. – I associate Poland with love. Everything which I really love, has always been Polish. All my friends, beautiful people, are from Poland – said Jakub Gil from London. Damian Bajer from Brussels associates Poland mainly with prowess and bravery from the times of partitions and wars, and Karolina from Paris – with the most beautiful culture in the world. A lot of these young people want to return to Homeland of their ancestors one day and settle down in Poland – a country which they love.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 32/2018 (12 VIII 2018)