POPE FRANCIS IS ALREADY ON THE WAY TO POLAND
Lidia Dudkiewicz talks with archbishop Wacław Depo – the metropolitan of Częstochowa, a Chair of the Council for Mass Media of the Polish Episcopal Conference about pope Francis who became an unusual pilgrim of Jasna Góra, a phenomenon of pilgrimages and perspectives which the Church in Poland is going to face
LIDIA DUDKIEWICZ: – Archbishop has arrived in the Editorial Office of ‘Niedziela’, lashed by wind and rain. For, on the recent days he has visited pilgrims going to Jasna Góra on the occasion of the feast on 15 and 26 August, he welcomed and blessed them at the last stage of their holy wandering, was looking at their sunburned faces. How does the metropolitan of Częstochowa, the first minister of the Queen of Poland, see the phenomenon of the Polish walking pilgrimages which the whole world admires?
ARCHBISHOP WACŁAW DEPO: – Jasna Góra is a place which was passed to us providentially. Here, for many generations the Pauline Fathers, as guardians of this place, show a direction, suggest where and with whom we should go. What is important, is the awareness of the purpose and also a sense of relationship with others. This basic relationship is the relationship with Mary. We always emphasize that religiousness towards Mary, being the soul of the Polish Catholicism, is not a value closing in itself. It is in service to the Son. This miraculous image, which is a treasure for us, ‘an unusual help and defence’, also shows a direction in which and from which we must set off in order to achieve the purpose. Through this image – through the person of Our Lady – we are going to Jesus. Therefore, every pilgrimage must always consider the feature of religiousness towards Mary – Mother pointing to the Son and leading to Him. My task is to be the first in ministry to the Queen of Poland – because this is how we have accepted Mary and we want to perceive Her so all the time. And not only as our Queen, but, first of all, as our Mother who brings up her children in her own way. Coming to Her, we see a very clear message: ‘Do everything which my Son will tell you to’. So, we must listen to the voice of the Gospel and the Church which is alive and which should be filled in the obedience of faith.
– During a papal general audience on 27 August this year, the Holy Father in his word to Poles, entrusted us to Our Lady of Jasna Góra…..One can feel the close relationship of pope Francis with Jasna Góra.
– What is important, are faithfulness to this place and the role of a connector of Vatican with Jasna Góra, which is taken by archbishop Konrad Krajewski, a papal almoner who this year has led a group of the pilgrimage from Łódź to Jasna Góra. Recently the Holy Father asked him bluntly whether he had been at Jasna Góra, or he had fulfilled his task this year. When the Archbishop explained that, not earlier than in August he was going on a pilgrimage, pope Francis said: ‘Go a bit for me, please’. And earlier, during appointing him a papal almoner, stated definitely: ‘If you were to resign from folk religiousness from which you grew up, from what you have brought from your home, you had better not accept this function’. We thank Archbishop Konrad for emphasizing care of the Holy Father about us, the form of pilgrimages and for the fact that through his person the Holy Father has gone through a few stations of pilgrimages to Jasna Góra. We understand it as a kind of preparation for the pilgrimage of the Holy Father in 2016.
– If intentions of the Holy Father the papal almoner was taking to Częstochowa, we can say that in some sense, pope Francis is already a pilgrim of Jasna Góra…
– …he is already on his way…
– Crowning this time of pilgrimages – as always – were pilgrimages of Częstochowa and our archdiocese to Jasna Góra.
– This year priest rector Andrzej Przybylski and alumni joined the blue and white group which, within the 17th group, has made its pilgrimages for years from Warsaw, for the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary the Virgin. In this way the sanctuary was praying among the others in the intention of new vocations for priesthood, because the number of applications to the seminary is lower than usually. We hope that pilgrimages of the seminary community will also brings fruits of brave decisions of young people.
The novena before the feast of Our Lady of Częstochowa (17-25 August) was really crowning of all pilgrimages. I would like to thank also Częstochowa and our whole archdiocese, all parishes which hosted groups of pilgrimages at that time – not only in August but also earlier – for this very important testimony towards the Church in Poland and abroad, towards people who go in the sun and rain while being tired and meet with open hearts of other people.