BE STILL THE SERVANTS OF LIFE
On 15 February 2014, the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors was celebrating the 20th anniversary of its existence. The jubilee ceremonies held in Jasna Góra and the Higher Seminary in Częstochowa were attended by: archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski – the chairman of the Papal Council for Pastoral Ministry of the Ill and the Health Service archbishop Wacław Depo – the metropolitan of Częstochowa, the chairman of the Council for Mass Media of the Polish Episcopal Conference, bishop Stefan Regmunt – bishop of Zielona Góra, the chairman of the polish Episcopal Conference for health service and the national pastor of the health service – Fr. prof. Stanisław Warzeszak.
Jasna Góra as its birthplace
Doctors from whole Poland and invited guests started celebrating the jubilee with the Holy Mass at Jasna Góra. Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski presided over the Eucharist, reminded that the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors had been set up in February 1994 during the ceremonies of the Second Day of the Ill, which had taken place at Jasna Góra with the presence of, among the others, cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, the chairman of the Health Service at that time. Archbishop Zimowski emphasized that the anniversary is, first of all, the past which we reminiscence, the presence for which we thank God and the future – so, the prayer for the future of the health service in our homeland is inscribed in the Jubilee of the 20th anniversary of the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors.
In the homily archbishop Wacław Depo confirmed the truth expressed again by the Holy Father Francis that the Church sees a particular presence of suffering Christ in ill people. Mary is the closest to Christ who gave his life for us. It is Her who leads us to those inexpressible riches which God has prepared for us. Archbishop encouraged everyone to ask questions: what faith are we listening to God’s word with, so that we could participate the feast of Christ, say our Amen? How is Mary’s attitude, who is cuddling God’s Son in Her arms and contemplating His Image, an example for us to maintain in love after each Holy Mass so that we could co-participate in the Sacrifice of Her Son and how often am I aware of Her presence in difficult mysteries of my life, my service and my suffering? Archbishop Depo reminded that we were learning the attitude of entrustment to God through Mary and we are still learning it from blessed John Paul II who going through next stations of his suffering, used to repeat: ‘Wholly yours, Mary’.
Showing the sense of suffering to the ill
The liturgy at Jasna Góra was enriched by the singing of the choir of the Częstochowa arch- cathedral ‘Basilica Cantans’ under the direction of Włodzimierz Krawczyński, who also started the second part of the jubilee ceremony, that is, the conference in the auditorium of the Higher Seminary with the solemn ‘Gaude Mater Polonia’. The members of the Association and many guests were greeted by the chairman of the Main Board of the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors dr. of med. science Wanda Terlecka.
The issue of the jubilee was presented to participants by archbishop Zimowski, who reminded that following the example of Christ, the Church has always undertaken the ministry to the ill and suffering as an essential part of its mission. In our times this mission of the Church seems to take the character of necessity, need and priority. Having established the World Day of the Ill, John Paul II addressed a letter to cardinal Angellini, in which he presented the purposes of this day. The date of the letter is significant – 13 May 1992, and in the first pinpointed purposes there is help to the ill in their finding the value of their suffering. Reflections about the Christian sense of suffering were included by the Pope in the letter ‘Salvificidoloris’ in 1984. From the perspective of time – it has already been 30 years since the announcement of this letter – it is seen that the thought about help to the ill in understanding the values of their suffering is the most important now.
Archbishop Zimowski reminded that in the Charter issued 15 years ago, the Papal Council for Pastoral Ministry of the Health Service called doctors the servants of life. – Be still servants of life, be still witnesses of life culture, against the culture or civilization of death – appealed the Archbishop. In the context of the decision of the parliament allowing for euthanasia of children in Belgium, archbishop Zimowski emphasized: - Here we say to Our Lady of Częstochowa: - No to euthanasia! Never! Because human life is holy from the natural conception to the natural death.
Congratulations, wishes, awards
On the occasion of the jubilee, many present guests expressed congratulations and wishes to dr. Terlecka for the Association of Polish Catholic Doctors. There were: the vice-marshal of the Silesian province – Mariusz Kleszczewski, the vice-chairman of the Main Doctors’ Council – Konstanty Radziwiłł, the chairman of the Silesian Doctors’ Chamber - dr. of med. science Jacek Kozakiewicz, the chairwoman of the National Secretariat of Health Protection NSZZ ‘Solidarity’ – Maria Ochman. Congratulation letters were read out, among them there were letters from the apostolic nuncio in Poland – archbishop Celestino Migliore and the chairman of the Main Board of the Polish Doctors’ Association prof. dr. hab. Jerzy Woy-Wojciechowski.
The jubilee was also an occasion for reminiscing and honouring people with particular merits for the Association. In the first place prof. Jerzy Jurkiewicz – the Chancellor of the Award Jury read out surnames of meritorious doctors who have already passed away for ‘the eternal service’. These are: prof. dr. hab. Tadeusz Chrusciel, prof. dr. hab. Włodzimierz Fijałkowski, dr. of med. science Helena Gulanowska, dr. of med. science Leon Kowalczyk, dr. Ryszard Piłasiewicz and dr. ZenonWasilewski. The awards were received by their families and representatives of the branches of the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors. Furthermore, over forty doctors were awarded, acting for the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors, as well as a few priests helping and spiritually supporting the Association. These are the senior archbishop Stanisław Nowak, bishop Stefan Regmunt, Fr.inf. Marian Mikołajczyk, Fr. Józef Jachimczak, Fr. Paweł Sudowski and Fr. Stanisław Warzeszak. Bishop Stefan Regmunt, thanking for the award, said: The Catholic Association of Doctors is an unusual association because it is very necessary and meritorious for us. We are aware that today it is not easy to gain new candidates for such associations, therefore, I express my joy that you are faithful members of this Association. This faithfulness is important because it gives excellent fruit. Not always do big societies make great things, even the little things.
It has already been 20 years
During the conference there were two sessions: the first one – devoted to history and development of the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors and the second one – on the ‘Essence of life’. The lecture about the history of the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors was given by Fr. Mariusz Terka who reminded that the Association had been set up on 11 February 1994, whereas it had been registered – as a social organization gathering doctors and dentists – on 4 May 1994. The Statute emphasized that the basic purpose of the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors is serving to everybody in need, especially the ill. A particular purpose of the Association is realization of ethical rules and doctors’ deontology concerning life protection from the conception to the natural death. The Association which in the year 2011 was given the name of blessed Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, runs spiritual and intellectual formation which allows doctors to form their own consciences, get to know the teaching of the Church and learn to judge complex ethical issues according to the confessed faith. It addresses appeals to state authorities and international institutions about life protection, it also expresses its opinion in discussions about some laws, expresses its opinion in mass media and books, organizes many conferences and symposia. – The Catholic Association of Polish Doctors, combining medical practice with the Christian faith, helps its members to become Catholic doctors which means both being a good Christian and a doctor ‘of vocation’ – emphasized Fr. Terka.
Another historic lecture, prepared by Fr. Jacek Kapuściński, was devoted to the history and resources of the archive of the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors.
During the conference excellent lecturers gave their lectures, like: Fr. prof. hab. Waldemar Chrostowski, prof. dr. hab. Józef Zon and prof. dr. Alina Midro. The lectures were devoted to the issue of human life – in the biblical, natural and genetic understanding. Fr.prof. Chrostowski in his lecture entitled: ‘Life gift in the biblical perspective’ stated that the Holy Scripture presents human life in a bipolar way – as a factor of life generally and in the perspective of uniqueness of life, which God connected with the human being. The fact that the human being was created ‘for the image of God’ proves his specific dignity and his duties and commitments. The fragment of the Bible which says: ‘He created them a man and a woman’ includes a strong accent on the sex, on what is masculinity and femininity. One of the elements of God’s image in the human being is his sex, and because the Bible emphasizes the fact that a man and a woman are for each other, and a binder of their relationship is love, so in the human life there is the reflection of who God is as Love.
There were also other interesting lectures: prof. dr. hab. Józefa Zon ‘What can the contemporary nature sciences say about the essence of life?’ and prof. dr. hab. Alina Midro ‘The beginning of life – genetic and epigenetic conditions of the human procreation’. They aroused many questions and discussions.
In the end of the conference dr. Terlecka thanked hierarchs, lecturers, guests and all participants as well as the choir ‘Basilica Cantans’ for their participation in the common enjoyment of the jubilee of the 20th anniversary of the Catholic Association of Polish Doctors.