HELPING OTHERS, WE ARE CHANGING OURSELVES
It is worth realizing the fact that help through a prayer and material help come from the Gospel – said bishop Antoni Pacyfik Dydycz, the chairman of the Team for Help to the Church in the East
The representatives of the Foundation of St. Antoni, Olga Pawłowska, spends her significant part of her life, on travelling by car between Poland and Ukraine. ‘I live in a car’ – she says jokingly, describing her work. A joke is a joke, but, it is so indeed. She transports to the Eastern neighbours among the others, equipment of household and food. – We travel to elderly, lonely and ill people. They live in mountainous villages and do not have anybody, who could help them – she says.
Returning to Poland, Olga Pawłowska takes ill children with her. Ukrainian doctors do not often give these kids any chance to live. Doctors from the Children’s Health Centre do not see any problems in treating them. So far the Foundation of St. Antoni has brought 20 children for medical treatment, except for one child, all of them were cured.
Help which Olga Pawłowska gives, would not be possible without the support of the Office of the Team for the Help to the Church in the East; or without the help of those believers who in previous years and last Sunday were praying for the Catholics in the East and gave money during the collection of gifts conducted in front of churches all over the country.
Last Year, on the Second Sunday of Advent over 1.9 million zlotys were collected.- Thanks to this money, 425 requests were realized – says Fr. Leszek Kryża TCh, a director of the Office for the Team of the Help to the Church in the East.
Most applications addressed to the Office from a diocese, parish and from convents working in the East concerned the support: building and renovations of churches, pastoral actions, charity actions; and also purchase of liturgical aids or distributing Catholic press. – We supported among the others, renovation of a church in which a concrete plant had been for 60 years – says Fr. Kryża.
Also a Russian film-director Tamara Jeżyna asked the Office for support, which is in the Warsaw headquarter of the Polish Episcopate Secretariat. – I was making the film about the teaching of John Paul II. There are not any funds for such productions in Russia. Many people helped me for free. Arturo Mari gave me his photos, and Wojciech Kilar let me use his music in my film. But there was still a lack of means to finish this work. And then I found out about the Team for the Help to the Church in the East – says Jeżyna and she emphasizes. – Thank you for help. Thanks to it I could finish my work.
The film of Jeżyna is being translated into Polish now and it will have its premiere in our country soon. In Russia it is displayed in churches, in parish halls and in private houses.
In Russia, after the period of communism Christianity is dormant – says the Redemptorist Father Piotr Łacheta. The monk, has been fulfilling his ministry in the East for six years. At first he was in Kazakhstan and in Orsk in Russia for three years.
In this city of 250 thousand population, situated on the border of Europe and Asia, the Redemptorists have been present for two decades. Beside the pastoral work, monks are conducting charity activity, which is co-funded with the means from Poland. – In this way the Church gives a testimony about its faith and love – says Fr. Łacheta.
In the opinion of the Redemptorist, it can be said about the end of a period in pastoral work. – In the beginning mainly people of Polish and German origin used to come to churches. Today there are more and more Russians and some of them receive Sacraments.
So, it was possible to reach to the Catholics. And, to much extent, it is a merit of Polish priests, monks and nuns. At present, 250 diocesan priests, 450 monks, 401 nuns, 23 brothers and 18 laymen from our country work there.
However, we cannot forget that needs are enormous. – In Latvia there are only 6 people who have PhD in theology. The Holy Scripture has not been translated yet – says s. Sofija Osmjanska, a Carmelite nun, giving lectures in theology at University in Riga.
Also bishop Antoni Dydycz evaluates that ‘the needs are not disappearing but they are appearing’. – We do not belong to the richest countries, but we are in a comfortable situation in comparison with the countries behind the Eastern border (…) We must be where there are people in need – appealed the hierarch at a conference preceding XIV Day of Prayer and material help to the church in the East. – We should not forget that when we give, we receive. And those who start helping others, become different – emphasized bishop Dydycz.
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Olga Pawłowska knows how helping others can unexpectedly change people. the first child, whom she brought to Poland for treatment, was an orphan Jula. – Ukrainian doctors said that she would live only three months. Today Jula is 15 years old, learns in Poland and is a happy child – says Olga Pawłowska, privately…. mother of Jula.