From the academic window
Fr Andrzej Przybylski - Chaplain for students in Czestochowa
In the audience of 12 December 2004 I told John Paul II about our work with students in Czestochowa, about the pastoral student centre, the old house, which was bought in the neighbourhood of the students' campus and the project to build a new formation youth centre. The Holy Father looked at me, laid his hand on my head and held it for a long time in the gesture of blessing, and then he said the words that sounded like a command, 'But remember to be close to students and work with them!' At that moment those words were like a fuse, an impulse to act vigorously, and today they have become a will, like the last will of the Father. I must fulfil the will because these words contain a prophecy that you cannot stand aside, that you cannot complain that there are no young people in the Church, that Poland lacks Catholic elite, that there is nobody to lead us and defend our faith. You cannot complain that something has not grown if you have not invested, cared and created conditions for growth.
City without God
Our pastoral centre is located far from the students' residences but a considerable number of enthusiasts come to our meetings from the whole city. However, they are only a handful of the large academic world - not even 1 %. The great world of the students' campus is being more and more left to itself. And it is not that God has left them but it is us who have left them aside as a difficult daughter of the Church who is critical and demanding, and moreover, she does not contribute financially and does not easily applaud projects of the Church. So on the students' campus there is a city without God but with dozens pubs, clubs, discos, machines with condoms and shops selling alcohol day and night. But this is not a world of only evil, there is also lots of good, wonderful young people who like healthy fish immerse themselves in the waters of this world. And although the waters are sometimes poisoned they give testimony about life. But will they hold on? After being converted many students leave the students' halls of residence because, as they say, 'they cannot live on authentic faith there'. This is the first academic year that there have been no attempts to commit suicide by falling out of the window. Thanks be given to God. For me it is the greatest feeling of remorse that I have not raised a better possibility of spiritual help again.
Close to students
More and more brothers from Protestant Churches visit halls of residence. Although they are in minority they somehow have a greater chance to show what they can do. The Baptists have their own caf( for youth, with rooms for meetings and free courses of English conducted by American teachers. And I, Catholic chaplain for students, live in the presbytery and my small room must seat up to 20 people every evening. We have a chapel for over 100 people but I do not want to change it into a caf( in order not to destroy sacrum. But what can I say to students living in rooms with bunk beds in the hall 'Skrzat' when they tell me that they dream about a house, a round table, which they cannot place in their rooms, that they want to drink tea in normal conditions, and moreover, in a community that still has a lot of faith and good? Students need a house more than a sanctuary, they need a house of God! And I must build them such a house! They will soon build their own family houses, girls will teach at school and boys work as engineers and managers. If you do not give them an experience of home, they will build a waiting-room in their lives, waiting-room where you come for a while and run out of it quickly, where nobody feels at home.
At last we have got it. God heard our prayers. The Archbishop took a decision. The editor-in-chief of 'Niedziela' promised to help us and we set out for the promised land to be 'close to students and work with them'. A year ago we bought a house with a small square, very near the halls, just under their windows, so that we can literally 'evangelise on the roof'. Now we are adjusting the house and beg for help to complete the work. We want Christ to be the first inhabitant of the house, Christ present in the Eucharist. Therefore, we plan to finish constructing a chapel. We have embarked on that work with full confidence in God for people and money and with the hope that we will make it as an 'abnormal' parish for students. When I worry a little I pray to the Servant of God Fr Franciszek Blachnicki and I hear his words, 'If you know it is needed, build it and Lord God will settle the rest'. And when I hear the devil's wrath, his words spoken in people's voices that our house is an attempt to limit the autonomy of the university and what is the purpose of spending money on some 'coffee pastoral work', that in the end we will not milk students for anything, I pray to God looking at the windows of his House. And in one of these windows I can see the one who always understood such matters in the best way and he settled them in a concrete way - John Paul II. I hear him saying, 'Be close to students and work with them!'
I promise you, Holy Father, that I will be close to them, opposite their windows so that you could speak about Jesus, proclaim the Good News and teach the Catechism from the window of the house we are building.
Personalna Parafia Akademicka
Pw. Sw. Ireneusza BM
ul. Kilinskiego 132
Citi Bank Handlowy w Warszawie S.A.,
Oddzial w Czestochowie
PLN 95103015 0000000854026003
EUR 2310301 20000000854026038