Pilgrimages are popular in Poland, and have become an important evangelisation tool for the Salesians, especially in summer months. This FOCUS presents two experiences.
An annual event, this year the seventh Rosary Pilgrimage on foot from Warsaw to Czerwińsk (the Shrine to the Mother of God of the Consolation) was led by Fr Henryk Bonkowski assisted by Fr Zbigniew Kulesza. 140 individuals took part. The pilgrimage lasted 3 days. It left from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Pradze, on the very day that the school year concluded.
The idea of creating Salesian Evangelising Communities (SEC) emerged with the great stir caused by the World Youth Days in Czestochowa at the beginning of the 1990s. John Paul II, at the time, gathered young people from East and West at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Jasna Gora. The Iron Curtain had fallen, the world began to change, people took a stand, the 'Generation of JP II' people took a stand. The Pope called on youth to be part of new evangelisation. It took only a year to start the Salesian Evangelising Pilgrimage (SEP, in Polish SPE). In 1994 a new community was created – the ‘Desert of the Cities’. Both communities sprang from the Salesian being-with-young people which helps in the new evangelisation.
Following a year of active evangelizing work, SEP members take part in the summer retreats in Szczaniec, and members of the ‘Desert of the Cities’ have recollection days in various places. During these occasions they carry out numerous evangelising efforts, meeting the local people, sharing their faith with them, meeting people from different walks of life, or others in hospitals, prisons, reformatories. The main goal of these activities is to reach out to people who do not know how to express their faith, have not attended a mass for a long time, or who have lost their sense of God.
The ‘Desert of the Cities’ is the co-founder of the largest Polish evangelising initiative during the biggest rock festival in Eastern Europe, the “Przystanek Woodstock” (‘Terminus Woodstock’). We invented “Przystanek Jezus” (‘Terminus Jesus’) to be part of that.
A couple of years ago we began leading a group in the International Walking Pilgrimage Suwałki - Ostra Brama, in Poland. Several TV and radio programmes on our group have been prodcued – there were also articles in the most important Polish Catholic newspapers. We publish the bulletin “Czas Łaski” (‘The Time of Mercy’) and we have published a few books in the “Biuletyn SWE” (‘SEC Bulletin’). Since 1999 on we have also conducted regular pilgrimages to where St John Bosco lived and worked.
Provincial Secretary PLN P.Przemyslaw Cholewa: email@example.com
Provincial Secretary PLE P.Jaroslaw Pachulski firstname.lastname@example.org