FATHER JERZY ON THE SCREEN
Not for the first time. And no wonder. This is an unusual media person. Before he became a press spokesman of Jasna Góra, he had led a lot of singing pilgrims from the monastery wall during religious services. His pastoral baton, ending with a bulb, was well visible in the late evening between the Jasna Góra parks and even in the Częstochowa Alleys. Its glare, like a light in a tunnel, and its circular movements in the hand of the Pauline Father, gave a tact to choirs of thousand voices. He was very busy and slim person, with raven thick hair under a Pauline’s skullcap, in a white cassock and glasses with thick frames, whose characteristic voice was recognizable at once. Especially when at Jasna Góra Hill he was greeting through a microphone groups of pilgrims arriving from whole Poland.
I remember him as a person born in Częstochowa, from my childhood and early youth. And I fully admire and I am glad that after so many years he is still not only for me, an incomparable spokesman of the covenant between the past and new years. He is an alive history of the monastery, pulsing with a variety of colourful memories. And also the town situated at the monastery, unfortunately, often oblivious time of its visitation. And Catholic Poland, struggling for its identity for over half a century – first in the fight with fascist barbarians and then with communist empire of evil.
Father Jerzy Tomziński has already appeared in many documentary films, as an irreplaceable witness of various episodes from this long history. But he appeared in a special role on his 96th birthday – as a witness of nearly the whole century which he has experienced so far. And who was nearly related to his beloved sanctuary, to which he gave his all strengths. Wisdom he gained at that time - through various often dramatic experiences – is best summarized by the title of the film ‘God rules the world’, completely devoted to him and attracting a viewer’s attention for nearly an hour. In his way of understanding - which can be concluded from a short explication which he expresses in the beginning of the presentation – it means that in fact there are not accidental situations. For, everything which happens is governed by the Divine Providence with Its salvation plan towards the human being, against any temptations of ominous spirits of the dark. This is simple, strong and fruitful faith which is always ready to be shared. Also in front of cameras and sound recorders, and later on TV screens.
The author of this documentary film – Krzyszto Tadej was interested in Father Jerzy for a long time. He made him a narrator in the short film ‘Secrets of Jasna Góra’ made a few years ago. He cautiously collected necessary materials for a long autobiographic story with his participation. For this purpose he devoted the so-called historical notations to the Father who was the General Father twice and the prior of the Paulines’ Order three times. It means long recordings of his reminiscent monologues assigned for the archive, and next to later usage. Their short fragments were included to the new film. And what is interesting, with later or rather newest recordings, from September this years, they compose a harmonious entity, although passage of time is clearly seen on it. But this film includes many interesting documentary, photographic and film materials. Some of them are known, like touching archives from the times of Jasna Góra Vows of the Nation of ceremonies of the Baptism Millennium of Poland. However, photos of very good quality mentioned here, as black and white background of the reminiscent narration of Father Jerzy, do not make an impression of imitativeness. They are simply essential. However, there are archives less known or completely unknown, like the ones from San Giovanni Rotondo, where at the end of the 50s of the last century Father Jerzy met with the Holy Father Pio about which he reminds as one of the most important life experiences.
Such personal reports of the main character of the film, strictly related with the last-century history of the Catholic Church in Poland and in the world, are the power of the documentary film. What would the information be about the fact that Father Jerzy was born in Przystajnia near Częstochowa, if it did not include reminiscences about how mother of little Jerzy told him to kiss a beggar’s hand, who had appeared in a village and as a newcomer deserved a respectful welcome by the child. Or how colourless there would be a mention about the fact that Pius XII was very interested in the person of Primate Wyszyński, if it had not been embellished with full gusto apposition of Father Jerzy! Whereas he mentions after years that in 1958, during his studies in Rome, in response to this interest of the pope, he was telling a story in Latin for even 15 minutes, what the Primate of Poland did and how he is behind an iron curtain.
Screen life balance
Among anecdotes in which Father Jerzy is incomparable, and in which he is an inexhaustible treasury, in the film of Tadej, there appear both dramatic ones, for example, miraculous saving from destructive explosion of sanctuary, mined by withdrawing Germans in 1945, and also the hilarious ones, like clever arrangement of essential supply of water and bread – through a suggestive persuasion from the General Father Ziętek – for a big group of pilgrims arriving at Jasna Góra.
This sense of humour is one of the characteristic features of the main character of the film. Together with inherent and expressive and still alive mimics, it is a guarantee of imperishable attraction of his stories which have not bored anyone.
This extremely interesting film story, which is the screen life balance of Father Jerzy, is a look at the passing century seen from the perspective of an unusual monk who could be close to great saints, like Father Pio and Fr. Karol Wojtyła. But he also met sinister historical, miserable people on his way in life, who were social harmful people from the ideological-political point of view, but who did not dare to accuse him of anything. Moreover, it is not only a personal repertory of history. It is also an exceptional spirit-lifting example of very happy life, especially at the time of scandalous behaviours of some priests, an example of life fulfilled in faithfulness to his vocation, modesty and humility and unconditional religious order obedience. Life based on faith in God, devotion and trustfulness to Mary, on love to Homeland and persistent service to our neighbours, particularly to pilgrims. So, it is not a coincidence that the film about such an unusual person, meritorious for the Church and Poland, had its solemn pre-premiere during the recent retreats of the Polish Episcopal at Jasna Góra. And on 7 December it will be presented to a broader group of priests and laymen at Jasna Góra Rosary Chapel.