Helping every day

Rev. Msgr. Ireneusz Skubis talks to Rev. Dr. Adam Deren, Director of Caritas Polska, and Rev. Dr. Zdzislaw Swiniarski, Vice-director of Caritas Polska.

REV. MSGR. IRENEUSZ SKUBIS: - Charity work belongs to the fundamental activity of the Church in the world. In Poland Caritas began its free activities after we had regained freedom, and it has been very successful. It reveals certain corners of man's soul, i.e. generosity, love of the neighbour, openness to other people. 'Niedziela' will always support the work of Caritas by informing about its activities and formation of the faithful.

REV. DR. ADAM DEREN: - We would like to express our gratitude to you, to the whole editorial board of 'Niedziela' and to other papers because thanks to you we can reach people and inform them about what we do, what must be dealt with and how to meet needs. It is thanks to you that we can speak of the effects of our work. We thank you for promoting our Christmas Eve Work to Help Children, the Programme 'Wings', camps for children and the Easter action. 'Niedziela' has always been supporting us, informing about the work of Caritas. It is very helpful to have a partner who promotes our activities and is its moving force.

REV. DR. ZDZISLAW SWINIARSKI: - Your help is more valuable because we should always present the work of Caritas in order to win more and more new people who will work for us. The media, including 'Niedziela', are as if an extension of what we do. Because of your appeals and information about our work the hearts of our fellow countrymen are opened and we can offer help to those who need it most.

REV. DR. ADAM DEREN: - Naturally, as a Catholic ecclesiastical institution we follow the Jesus' principle in helping people, 'when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing' (cf. Matthew 6:3). Nevertheless, we do realise that we are living in the world of media and without their support our work will not be so praised and first of all, will not be supported.

- Caritas Polska is a great success of the Church today. How would you describe your success?

REV. DR. ADAM DEREN: - In its present form Caritas Polska has existed for only 15 years. As we know Caritas began just after the war, in 1946, but soon in the year 1950 its possessions were nationalised. But during that period the institution employed many people, had numerous volunteers and ran over one thousand centres. Today Caritas has got a very short history since it was reactivated in 1989 and Caritas Polska in 1990. In spite of that our charity work has been well developed. Currently, Caritas does not only help but also is one of the more important places of employment in Poland. It employs over 4,500 people who are full time charity workers. Our activities are supported by over 60,000 volunteers, taking part in particular actions.
Towards the end of last year we counted that we spent over 200 million zlotych. This is only financial help, we do not speak about other things, e.g. clothes, rehabilitation equipment, medical equipment, which we often get from abroad. We do not evaluate the work of volunteers and it is said that one hour of volunteer's work is worth over 11 zlotych (this is the fee accepted in the EU institutions). If we wanted to 'translate' it into the language of finances, the sum would be much bigger.

REV. DR. ZDZISLAW SWINIARSKI: - Every year Caritas develops its possibilities to offer help. We try to expand our activities and open new institutions. Our special concern is the involvement of young people. School circles of Caritas have been developed. Parish Caritas centres have been organised in many dioceses. I always hope that this activity will grow since the needs of our fellow citizens, mostly poor people, are enormous. Thanks to the people of good will, those who support us, and also thanks to our volunteers, we can provide this help.

- Great satisfaction to be able to do some good....

REV. DR. ADAM DEREN: - Yes, its gives satisfaction. I think that it gives satisfaction not only to us, our workers, our volunteers and the people who take part in our actions in various ways. There are donators, private people and institutions, that have supported our activities for 15 years. New institutions join our programmes. Many of us feel great satisfaction because apart from helping people we can have good professions. We often tell our employees that work for Caritas has a wider dimension: it makes them earn their living and have good jobs but at the same time it makes them feel that this job, as perhaps no other profession, can bring concrete help to people, touch human poverty and meet the needs of the poor. We are experiencing much joy. Take for example the last initiative: we have run the Programme 'Wings' for 4 months. It is a programme to help the poorest children, especially those who go to school without eating breakfast, children who have not got exercise-books, books and clothes. Although the action has not lasted long we have already helped over 600 children. In this programme 'we give wings to children' and at the same time, as we have just heard at the press conference, the person who helps gets wings through the possibility of helping. These are wings of joy and satisfaction flowing from concrete good which he has done and which mobilises him to further actions. This is one of the examples of our joy and satisfaction.

- Where from do you take ideas for your actions, which are so many?

REV. DR. ADAM DEREN: - The institution has had many experiences but we also use the experiences of our colleagues, priests and nuns working for Caritas as well as laymen who are professionals in many fields, such as marketing, advertisements, public relations. These ideas originate in dioceses and in Caritas. We try to put them into concrete forms and get wide publicity. The most universal ideas, which can effectively meet the needs of larger groups of the poor or injured, are taken to the national level and are publicized to a greater extent.

REV. DR. ZDZISLAW SWINIARSKI: - Ideas are in the minds of those who are inclined to help. Caritas involves numerous young priests who have much strengths and ideas, which we try to put into practice. From time to time we have got some crazy, as it were, ideas; we are young and ideas come to our minds quickly but first of all we have got greater possibilities to realise them. If we see the ideas are good and they are conceived in a diocese, for example the Programme 'Wings', which was invented in the diocese of Lodz, we try to spread it all over Poland.

REV. DR. ADAM DEREN: - We also use the solutions which have already been successful in the work of German, French or Italian Caritas. Caritas Polska belongs to the Federation of Caritas Europa and to Caritas Internationalis as well. While going with various projects, e.g. to India or Africa we often bring very interesting solutions with us. Because the countries where such relief is indispensable have got well-thought-out schemes that we can later implement in our situation.

- How could 'Niedziela' participate more in the work of Caritas Polska?

REV. DR. ADAM DEREN: - 'Niedziela' has participated in our work for many years and has supported us very courageously as far as promotion and information about what we do are concerned. It is for us, speaking openly, a very reliable media that always gives verified and confirmed news. And this is very important to us so that we can inform our society in a thorough and reliable way.

REV. DR. ZDZISLAW SWINIARSKI: - We are thankful to all Catholic media for presenting our activities because, as you have mentioned at first, it is the work of the Church which testifies to God's love through her activities. When Archbishop Jozef Michalik, President of the Polish Bishops' Conference, meets us in the Secretariat of the Conference he often says, 'Do this wok of mercy since it is the Fifth Gospel'. 'Niedziela' also presents the activities of Caritas and supports this work in a considerable way. You have always welcomed all actions of Caritas, for example 'Niedziela' has been the patron of the Programme 'Wings' in the media, and the Programme is expanding very well. We owe you a lot in this respect. We think that 'Niedziela' will support many more similar programmes.

REV. DR ADAM DEREN: - We are very glad that with the help of 'Niedziela' we can inform Polish citizens, especially believers, how they can join us. People themselves often phone us, ask questions, but these single phone calls do not solve the problem. 'Niedziela' is the weekly that reaches various parts of the country and also abroad, and thus numerous people can get to know our proposals to help others.

- We are open to collaboration with Caritas. Thank you for the conversation and I wish you fruitful work for the Church and for all who need help. These are not only the poor and the impoverished. The rich often need help, too. And when they can join the works of charity, which Caritas carries on, they receive help they need - the help for their souls. Caritas Polska is engaged in both activities.

"Niedziela" 7/2006

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: