POLISHNESS HAS NO BOUNDARIES
Polishness is the reality beyond any boundaries, either the political or geographical ones, so if we are praying for Poles, we are praying for those living in Poland and abroad – says bishop Wiesław Lechowicz, a delegate of the Polish Episcopal Conference for pastoral ministry of the Polish emigration.- On this occasion I want to express my gratitude to Pauline Fathers who pray for Poles living abroad every day at the Appeal Prayer at Jasna Góra. I am very grateful to them for this prayer at Jasna Góra.
It is estimated that the Polish diaspora reaches up to 21 million Poles, so Poles are a 60-million-people nation and like any other, it requires care, also the spiritual one. This care was expressed by a steadfast cardinal – God’s servant August Hlond, who, being on forced emigration himself, used to say that ‘on exile Polish souls are killed’. Therefore, in 1932, thinking about the Polish diaspora and caring about it, he founded a religious order of Christ Fathers. Among the Polish emigration there are about 2 thousand diocesan and religious order priests, of whom there are about 300 Christ priests. In 1959 the God’s servant Fr. Ignacy Posadzy founded a Convent of Missionary Sisters of Christ the King for Foreign Polish Diaspora whose special task is spiritual and pastoral care about Poles living abroad. Sisters help emigrants and pray for them. A dozen years ago they founded a House of Prayer in which, praying to Jesus in Blessed Sacrament, they entrust God the Polish Diaspora every day and those who help Poles abroad. Christ priests do pastoral ministry; they base their activity in foreign provinces on maintaining patriotic spirit and Polish culture. Caring about the spiritual good of Poles, every year the Christ Society for Foreign Polish Diaspora organizes a Day of Prayers in the intention of Emigration and the night vigil prayers at Jasna Góra. In the General House of the Missionary Sisters of Christ the King for Foreign Polish Diaspora in Morask there have been Holy Masses for the Polish Diaspora organized for a few years on 3 May. Whereas a lot of parishes include intentions of prayer for the Polish Diaspora into intentions of Holy Masses within the believers’ prayer.
Polish Pastoral Ministry
Nearly every Polish family has somebody on emigration – if not somebody from family, at least somebody among their friends or acquaintances. A number of Poles on emigration is still changing. Some of them are season emigrants – they do abroad only for work and return but a lot of them settled abroad for ever. Structures of the Polish pastoral ministry are the most developed in these countries where there are most Poles, for example, in Germany, in the UK or in France but in the recent time more and more Poles have been emigrating to Scandinavia and are the majority of Catholics there.
This is a kind of a challenge for local Churches, local priests, bishops and also it must be considered in running a diocese – says bishop Lechowicz. – I think that the specifics of pastoral ministry for the Polish Diaspora is that a priest is not simply able to run pastoral ministry by himself. Pastoral ministry must be run in such a way that a great role in it should be played by laymen – it is difficult to imagine good functioning of Polish parishes abroad without them. Hence when we are organizing congresses of the Polish diaspora youth, we address these suggestions to leaders and moderators hoping that it is them who will encourage other people to get engaged in the parish life.
Challenges collected with Polish Pastoral Ministry in the world are similar to those we are facing up in Poland – says bishop Lechowicz. – So, we can say that it is a kind of reflection of the pastoral situation in Poland. I am thinking about three groups which require a lot of interest from us. The first one is a pastoral ministry for married couples and families, which we are going to run for 3 years. We want a pastoral program for parishes of the Polish Diaspora to be based on the motto: ‘Gospel – Good News about marriage and family on emigration’. In the nearest year we are going to touch on issues connected with preparation for marriage and family, in the following year we are going to discuss ways of accompanying spouses and families in their religious formation, and we are going to devote the third year to the issue connected with children and youth upbringing. It is just the youth which is the second group that should be under care of priests. I am glad that there are new pastoral initiatives. In some countries, for example, in England, there is going to be a forum of the youth of the Polish Diaspora this June. It is a few years since we have been organizing congresses of the youth of the Polish Diaspora for leaders, moderators of the youth pastoral ministry on the worldwide scale. Next year this congress will be held on 1-9 August in Cracow. And the third group – is the issue very close to pope Francis – pastoral ministry for people living on the margin, that is, people who are not coping with their everyday life, are lonely, alienated, are suffering from various problems. There are relatively a lot of such people in groups of the Polish Diaspora and we want to remember about them, hence there are accents which we also lay on charity pastoral ministry, on volunteering; we support groups, encourage laymen to reach to those who are helpless and do not cope with their everyday life. These are groups of believers whom we want to care about. And these are, in my opinion, the main challenges which we are going to face up in the nearest years – says bishop Lechowicz.
Translated by Aneta Amrozik
Niedziela 17/2019 (28 IV 2019)