(Tuchow, Poland) Summer holidays mean for the members of the Missionary Team “Wschód” (in Polish: The East)” both a time of intensive apostolic work and the final stage of the almost one-year lasting preparation for retreats organized for children and youth in the several parishes in the countries of the former Soviet Union as well. Last summer retreats took place in eight spots: four in Belarus (Sumilina, Vidze, Lyntupy and in the redemptorist parish in Grodno), three in Ukraine (Striletske, Mizhenets, and Boloziv) and one in Lithuania (Šalčininkėliai). Approximately 520 children and teenagers participated in these retreats.
The main topic of the retreat was the relationship with Jesus that one experiences at the prayer and by participating in sacraments of confession and Eucharist. Such basics of the Christian life were presented in the catechesis, homilies, and at the time of prayers. Members of the mission team “Wschód” prepared a set of conferences and teaching to help the young participants to enter deeper into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. It is worth to mention that the meetings for teenagers led by one of our animators – Piotr Podlecki, turned out to be very popular and successful.
Our summer retreats not only created the space for prayer and teaching but also gave the young people a great opportunity to play, dance, do some sports and enjoy to be together. Every place where the “holidays with God” was held, it had its specific climax. In some places we organized a walking pilgrimage to the nearest shrine so that the children could better know their neighborhood and places related to the Christian faith. We often invited the children also to practice their talents and skills and, in this way, to enrich the retreat.
As usual, there were many members of our missionary team involved in organizing and conducting the retreats for the children and youth this year: 4 Redemptorist priests, 11 Redemptorist students of the Major Seminary in Tuchow, and 33 lay animators. We are very grateful to fr. Sylwester Pactwa C.Ss.R., socius of the Studentate and director of the Missionary Team “Wschod, Fr. Tymoteusz Macioszek C.Ss.R., Fr. Andrzej Jodkowski C.Ss.R. and Fr. Edward Petelczyc C.Ss.R. for taking the responsibility to direct the retreats. We also thank the animators for their efforts, talents and the witness of their Christian and missionary life.
We appreciate the help from many different people, institutions, and parishes, that supported our missionary activities both materially and spiritually. Due to their support, it was possible to conduct so many retreats. We are also grateful to the parish priests, whose cooperation was of great importance in organizing the retreats.
Missionary Team “Wschód” is an apostolic group that unites the Redemptorists, nuns and laypeople of different ages and occupations. They are actively involved in the evangelization of the countries of Eastern Europe. In this way they strive to live and realize the charism of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer – that is to preach the Good News among the poorest and most abandoned people. Their main form of evangelization are retreats for children and teenagers. They organize and lead in the parishes during the summertime.
Br. Piotr Mazur C.Ss.R.,
Secretary of the Missionary Team “Wschód”.