THROUGH A PRAYER TO THE OLYMPIC GOLD
Fr. Mariusz Boguszewski talks with Fr. Ireneusz Izdebski – a parson of the parish of St. Apostles Szymon and Juda Tadeusz in Soczi – about work in Russia
FR. MARIUSZ BOGUSZEWSKI: – How long has Priest been working in Russia and what has the work looked like till now?
FR. IRENEUSZ IZDEBSKI: – Once my colleague, having his ministry in Russia, told me: ‘You are here in order to pray with your parishioners and for your parishioners’. I have been fulfilling my ministry in Russia since 2008, from the beginning, in the parish of St. Apostles Szymon and Juda Tadeusz in Soczi, I have been trying to do so. In the parish there are Holy Masses and other divine services celebrated, as well as holy sacraments (baptism, confession, Holy Communion, Confirmation and marriage) are administered, believers are prepared for these sacraments, there are catechesis for children the youth and adults. There are often individual meetings or in small groups. Fulfilling my ministry in Soczi, I understood that it is necessary to make it possible for parishioners (and not only them) to meet with a priest. Therefore, after the end of Divine Service I come out to people in order to talk with them. I also try to accept every invitation which I receive from them. A personal meeting gives a lot of possibilities in order to reach to the human heart at least with one evangelical thought. It often happens that something which seems easy to us, requires explanation for others. Whereas, the answer which I give to people, are accepted with great trustfulness. Thanks to it, the words of the Holy Scripture are understood better: ‘If you do not change yourselves or become like children, you will not enter the Heavenly kingdom’ (Mt 18.3). It is important for my parishioners that I assure them about my prayer for their intention. They are very grateful for it, as well as for every gesture of blessing.
I must also mention that in one of the ‘districts’ of Soczi, in Adler, a place distanced by 30 km from our church, we are building a chapel. It is work which is very absorbing and before Fr. Maricn Wojtyra came to Soczi, it had been difficult for me to connect pastoral ministry in one place with the building work and pastoral ministry in another place.
In our parish in Soczi, sisters from the Convent of Our Lady of Loreto have always helped us. Their help is invaluable. They take care of parishioners, participate in pastoral ministry and take care of our common house. At present in Soczi there are sisters who are fulfilling their ministry: s. Serafina Jaczewska, s. Regina Frąckiewicz and s. Cecylia Banasiewicz.
– Did Priest have any special tasks connected with pastoral ministry among sportsmen during the winter Olympic games?
– Bishop Clemens Pickiel, the Ordinary of the diocese of St. Klemens in Saratow, appointed me a chaplain of the Winter Olympic Games and Para-Olympic Games in Soczi. Within the preparations for the Olympic games, my duty was organizing a group for fulfilling the ministry in three Olympic villages, adjusting and equipping assigned rooms so that it would be possible to celebrate the Holy Mass and pray in silence. Now, during the Olympic Games I am embracing sportsmen, members of training staffs and national Olympic committees in our chapel in an Olympic coastal village with my spiritual care. Every morning the Holy Mass is celebrated. When it finishes, I am on duty from 3 p.m. – this is time when sportsmen or other inhabitants of the village can come for a prayer, meeting, confession, blessing….During the Olympic games I am being supported by a volunteer – s. Lena Wychugzhanina CSL, who is also on duty every day in the Olympic chapel. We know that sportsmen can have trainings and other activities at the time suggested by me. Therefore I am also available at the time different than assigned hours. My task is also coordinating pastoral ministry in other villages (a mountainous Olympic village and an additional mountainous Olympic village). Each of them has its priest. Fr. Olvin Veigas and Fr. Janez Sever SJ are fulfilling their ministry in them, as well as our volunteers Anna Shirkhanyan and Mihail Kiba. Fr. Marcin Wojtyra, Fr. Sergiej Babadzhanjan and s. Cecylia Banasiewicz CSL are ready for their ministry in the Olympic villages during the para-Olympic games.
‘Olympic’ pastoral ministry is not limited only to sportsmen and other inhabitants of the Olympic villages. Our parish church is the only Catholic church in the city. Therefore, it is open all the time so that everyone can come here to pray. We invited Fr. Władysław Kloc SDB from Rostow at Don to help us and we introduced the Holy Mass for fans during the Olympic games. It is celebrated in English – everyday at 10a.m. There is also a website of our parish (www.katoliksochi.ru) and we are also available on social networking sites Facebook and Vkontakte.
– On 9 February our compatriot Kamil Stoch won a gold Olympic medal which is surely joy for Priest. Did Priest have an occasion to with our gold medal winner?
– I am very glad about the victory of Kamil Stoch! During the competitions I was at the stadium and I was cheering him on I also had an occasion to meet with Kamil and other members of our team of ski-jumpers. It was a day earlier, on Saturday. Together with Fr. Edward Pleni SDB, the national priest of sportsmen, we were celebrating the Holy Mass for them in the chapel in the Olympic village. As Catholic media inform, sportsmen were engaged in the Liturgy of God’s Word and after the Eucharist they received medallions of Our Lady the Helper of Believers from Fr. Edward. After the Liturgy we were talking and I wished our sportsmen victories during the Olympic competitions. The wishes were fulfilled next day!