In Poland and Polish communities abroad, the Redemptorists are well known as missionaries and retreat preachers. As they proclaim the Good News in this way, they want to be faithful to the charism of the Congregation and respond to the needs of the Church. In Lent 2022, after two years of epidemics, when the number of retreats and popular missions dropped significantly, they conducted 440 parish retreats and missions.
In Poland in 2020, there were 10361 parishes and assuming that each of them organised a Lenten retreat, one can estimate 4.2% of the parish communities were visited by Redemptorists this Lent. Given the many male religious congregations involved in similar activities and many diocesan priests preaching parish retreats, this is a significant number.
Altogether, the Redemptorists conduct annually about 100 missions and almost as many mission renewals and about 700 retreats in parishes in Poland. To this figure, one should add more than 200 series of retreats and spirituality courses for clergy, consecrated persons and groups of lay people.
Parish retreats conducted by the Redemptorists are distinguished by their attention to current pastoral issues of the Church in Poland, emphasis on preparation for a good experience of the sacrament of reconciliation and fruitful participation in the Eucharist. The preachers use illustrative language and strive to address both feelings and minds of the listeners. They also draw attention to Mary as a constant help in the profound Christian life.
The Redemptorists in Poland usually preach the popular missions (parish missions) for eight days. Therefore, the faithful can hear and accept the essential truths of the Gospel (kerygma) and take concrete steps on the path of conversion and renewal of faith and Christian morals and prayer.
To refresh the fruits of the mission in the parish, Redemptorists carry out a renewal one year after. Wherever possible, the parish mission is preceded by adequate preparation.
It is typical for Redemptorists to preach missions as a community, going in two to the parish. Recently, more often, Redemptorists conduct popular missions with lay collaborators who share St. Alphonsus’ charism and are formed in evangelisation.
The purpose of the Congregation of Redemptorists, founded by St. Alphonsus in 1732 in Southern Italy, was and still is to preach the Gospel to the poor and abandoned people. Popular missions carried out by a group of missionaries over a certain period in each village or town were considered the best tool.
The Redemptorists, faithful to their Founder’s inspiration, rich with the experience of generations of members of the Congregation, and witnessing many spiritual fruits of the missions, continue and develop to this day this method of the extraordinary proclamation of the Word of God, also on Polish soil.