The wonderful Land of John Paul the II
I got the invitation to join a training course for chaplains from the ICCPPC (= International Catholic Commission Prison Pastoral Care). I was happy not only because of the course, but also for the opportunity to visit for the very first time the Land of John Paul the II, and indeed it was a wonderful experience. As soon as I arrived in Warsaw the General Chaplain of Poland, Msgr. Pawel Wojtas, took me to do the city of Warsaw by night.
We paid homage to the tomb of the unforgettable Card. Primate of Poland, Msgr. Wyszynski located in the magnificent of St. John Cathedral (Katedra Swietego Jana); Then we went to the “Monument of Warsaw Uprising” (Pomnik Powstania Warszawskiego); after that we visited the “Tomb of Unknown Soldier” (Grób Nieznanego Zolnierza); and finally we walked for a while through the “Old Town” (Stare Miasto).
The day after we went to the Center of Development of Prison Service in Popowo, where the training course would take place.
There were present almost 170 Polish prison chaplains, plus some chaplains from different Countries: Vice President of ICCPPC, Father Brian Gowans, from Scotland; father Marc and Mrs. Khristine from Cincinnati USA; father Jose from Spain; father Konstantin from Ukraine; father Sergey from Byelorussia; and, finally, my person from Italy.
The vice president of ICCPPC, Father Brian, from Scotland, started off his speech by telling us about a very famous prisoner, who was very popular because of his attitude to help everybody. He had problems with those who ruled over the people of Israel. He was arrested and put in prisosn. Finally he was sent to court and condemned to death. He was crucified in a place, called Calvary, outside city walls of Jerusalem: His Name was Jesus of Nazareth. Because of Him we chaplains keep on going to the prisons all over the world to meet prisoners: “I was in Prison and you visited me”.
Then Father Brian reminded us that nowadays there are almost 9 million people behind bars in the world and that human rights of prisoners are at risk in many countries.
Father José from Spain in his speech made us aware of how the whole holy Bible relates to the liberation of human being carried out by God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.
We had also the grace to concelebrate the holy Mass with the former Cardinal Primate of Poland, H. E. Msgr. Glemp.
We had the opportunity to visit the Concentration Camp of Auschwitz. (Obóz Koncentracyjny w Oswiecimiu). The Director General of Prison Service, Gen. Jacek Pomiankiewicz, provided a minibus and a wonderful interpreter, Alexsandra Rogowska for us. We all had a very dramatic experience visiting the camp and I think that everybody should, once in a life, visit this place…
I could not go back to Italy without visiting Czestochowa and the Holy Shrine of the most blessed Mary the Mother of Jesus.
I was amazed by the faith of the polish people I saw there...
I want to thank Vice President of ICCPPC, Father Brian , for inviting me to join the training course, and my sincere thanks are due to Msgr. Pawel Wojtas because he went out of his way to organize the course and make comfortable our stay in Poland. Last but not least, I want to thank the Polish Minister of Justice Mr. Zbigniew Ćwiąkalski and the General Director of Prison Service Gen. Jacek Pomiankiewicz for supporting the whole training course.
Fr. Bruno Oliviero