Serving God, the Church and our Homeland
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
Dear Readers of ‘Niedziela’
85 years ago, on 4 April 1926, the first edition of ‘Niedziela’ was published. The weekly was initiated by Bishop Teodor Kubina of Czestochowa just after he had taken over the newly created Diocese of Czestochowa. Bishop Kubina was a priest of the Archdiocese of Wroclaw and he also worked in Berlin and Kolobrzeg, and then in the Diocese of Katowice, also as the parish priest of St Mary’s Church in Katowice. He was also an editor-in-chief of ‘Gosc Niedzielny.’ Involved in the struggle for the Polishness of Silesia he was active in the referendum in Upper Silesia. As a Polish patriot, a Silesian, he knew what the Catholic paper was for the Polish people. That’s why he decided very quickly to edit ‘Niedziela.’ Bishop Kubina appointed Fr Wojciech Mondry an editor-in-chief of the weekly. Fr Mondry was also a great patriot who fought for the Polishness of the regions of Warmia and Mazuy. When Poles lost the referendum in these lands Fr Mondry had to leave. And there was an occasion for that Polish priest to use his priestly energy well. From its very beginnings ‘Niedziela’ was an ecclesiastical patriotic paper fulfilling very important pastoral tasks. Bishop Kubina had a clear vision of the role of a Catholic paper in his diocese and his appeals to the faithful published in the weekly were cordial, simple and always to the point. The editor-in-chief of ‘Niedziela’ understood the role of the paper in a similar way. Their collaboration was excellent. The circulation was impressive. The faithful and priests knew that the bishop cared for readership in their diocese. The circulation increased and Fr Mondry could write about publishing successes. One should know that ‘Niedziela’ was only a local paper, for the Diocese of Czestochowa’ and its circulation amounted to 25,000 a week! Today no diocese can boast of such a circulation. And we have different times and no illiteracy in Poland. But then there was no Catholic radio and television; so Catholic press played an enormous role. Naturally, both the editor-in-chief of ‘Niedziela’ and the shepherd of the diocese often reminded the faithful of the value of this press and its great formational role. Although many years have passed little has changed in the message of the Catholic paper. The editors-in-chief encourage the faithful to read such periodicals, give them various proposals, desiring to reach as many readers as possible and convince them about the value of Catholic press. When we compare the texts published in ‘Niedziela’ in the first decade of its existence and the present texts we are astonished to see similar problems. The difference is the understanding of the meaning of Catholic media by priests. A question arises, ‘Did the former priests care more for formation of the faithful by Catholic press?… The pre-war ‘Niedziela’ was published till 1939, the outbreak of World War II. It served parish life and was really an extra priest in the parish as Bishop Kubina wrote. It also served Catholic institutions, organisations and associations. It was a vivid, factual paper meeting the spiritual needs of its readers. When the cataclysm of World War II came the weekly was cancelled. It returned to the Polish parishes, and not only to the Diocese of Czestochowa, in 1945, directed by Fr Antoni Marchewka. But those were, unfortunately, the times of the communist regime and the censorship that limited the possibilities of Catholic editorial board. After the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 the pressure on the Church intensified and the publication of ‘Niedziela’ was suspended. It lasted for long 28 years. On 5 March 1981 Bishop Stefan Barela, the third Metropolitan of Czestochowa, received a permit to re-activate ‘Niedziela.’ Having the circulation of 100,000 and under conditions defined by the communist authorities – the selected printing house and censorship office in Opole as well as the distribution by the communist company Ruch – ‘Niedziela’ could be published again, with a several month break caused by the marshal law. For the first ten years ‘Niedziela’ – under my leadership – was published under the watchful censor’s eyes. We always struggled strongly against it. The situation lasted till June 1989 when censorship was cancelled and we had freedom of speech. Since then we have started working differently. Today we prepare ca. 220 pages of 19 editions of ‘Niedziela’ every week. It means many materials prepared by the editorial board in Czestochowa and particular diocesan boards, which requires a lot of work. But thanks to that ‘Niedziela’ can serve almost the whole Polish Church and not only the Diocese of Czestochowa. When some bishop decides to publish ‘Niedziela’ in his diocese our editorial board feels obliged to a special service for this diocese and its bishop becomes also our supporter. The reason I speak about it is that both bishops and priests of our dioceses should know that our editorial board is willing to work for the diocesan Church very much. Each edition of ‘Niedziela’ is treated as service for the diocese. We would like our bishops to realise that ‘Niedziela’ wants to help them in their pastoral ministries. We do not force our options but give the diocesan editors freedom to publish articles so that they could understand better the desires of their shepherds and the diocesan edition could serve the local pastoral ministry. It is our ecclesiastical intention because we think that the work of evangelisation, including pastoral ministry, should be supported by Catholic press. Celebrating the 85th anniversary of ‘Niedziela’ we want to tell all Bishops, Priests, seminary Teachers and our Readers that ‘Niedziela’ does its best to serve the Church in Poland, supporting her pastoral ministry. The great Primate of the Millennium Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski summarised briefly the option of the Polish Church, ‘Provide care for all that Poland is.’ These words include a patriotic message. Therefore, we want to serve our Homeland, culture and identity that has always been Christian. That’s why we realise that if ‘Niedziela’ cultivates Polish culture and cares for its historic truth it serves the work of evangelisation. We very much want our Readers to know that ‘Niedziela’ desires simply to serve them faithfully.