On October 9-10, 2018, a two-day symposium was held at the Shrine of St. John Paul II in Cracow, Poland. The symposium was organized by the four Conferences of Consecrated Life in Poland.
The symposium of consecrated persons in Poland is organized once every three years by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men’s Institutes, the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the Conference of Superiors of Cloistered Monasteries and the National Conference of Secular Institutes. This year’s meeting was entitled “If We Do Not Catch Fire, We Cannot Light Up; Renewing Passion for the Gospel”.
The guest of honor was the Secretary for the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and of the Societies of Apostolic Life, Archbishop José Rodríguez CARBALLO, OFM, who presented the document of his dicastery “For New Wine, New Wineskins”. He spoke of his fears regarding religious institutes, because although they have a fantastic “wine”, the wineskins in which it is contained are not attractive, they do not show its goodness. He explained that some structures should be maintained, others should be renewed or re-invented and others still should be abandoned.
The meeting was attended by the Most Reverend Jacek KICIŃSKI, President of the Commission for the Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life of the Polish Episcopal Conference. He is a religious of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and is an Auxiliary Bishop of Wrocław. He reiterated that “The passion of consecrated persons should be the Gospel and evangelization, because only in this way can they catch fire and enlighten others”. He encouraged the participants to experience the love of God and to be a sign of God’s loving presence in the world.
The Most Reverend Edward DAJCZAK, Bishop of Koszalin-Kołobrzeg, Poland, using examples from life, argued that in addition to content, the way that content is communicated plays an enormous role in evangelization. He said that only through personal encounter and deep relationship with God can we help others on the journey of faith. This is because “the Gospel is a message of encounter, not theory”. He encouraged consecrated persons to understand people and listen to them; to read the world and not be prisoners of its systems; to share the Gospel—because it is the only way they can grow in it; to transform the Word of God into life—so that it can go out on the street and get its hands muddied in people’s problems. He publicly thanked the cloistered Orders in his diocese for their presence, because as he noted, “All the great activities of evangelization need the constant support of those praying on their knees.”
Sister Małgorzata BORKOWSKA (Benedictine of Charity) gave a presentation. She is the author of many publications and normally lives in seclusion. In her speech, she stressed that passion for the Gospel “must be something much deeper than tears of emotion in front of a burning candle” because “Emotional piety has a tendency to keep us from discovering who God truly is (…) we make our own feelings and emotions the center of attention, we elaborate on them and practically pray for them”.
Two young Dominicans, Friars Szymon POPŁAWSKI and Krzysztof PAŁYS, explained how a religious community can be a “therapeutic place” and when it is not.
Four young consecrated persons, representatives of all four Conferences, also participated. Despite their short “apprenticeship” they have already experienced that people need them, but they want to see them from a more authentic perspective and with a lifestyle that matches what they preach.
We also discussed the means of communication within the cloister. A priest of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Palatines) Father Krzysztof MARCYŃSKI, warned against Internet addiction, which occurs at the expense of one’s duties and time dedicated to God.
Professor Monika PRZYBYSZ, in turn, suggested how to avoid smartphone dependency. She also indicated six important functions in the use of the Internet: information, education, promotion, evangelization, formation and community. She stressed that meeting people on the Internet should lead to meeting them in the real world.
After the official conclusion of the convention, the Major Superiors met in their Conferences to discuss current matters directly related to their ministries and issues regarding the Personal Data Protection Regulation which will be going into effect.
The next meeting will take place May 14-15, 2019. The theme will be “The Language of the Church.”
Friar Jan M. SZEWEK, Spokesman for the Friars Minor Conventual of Cracow
/ Editorial Staff