In the service to the Church

Anna Cichoblazinska

There is no better place for the editorial board of the opinion-forming Catholic paper than the place occupied by the Catholic Weekly 'Niedziela'. From the windows of the office on the second floor one can see the tower of the Jasna Gora monastery and a crowd of pilgrims going along the street in summer months. This closeness of Jasna Gora also defines the charisma of the paper: to help Mary lead people to Christ, to be close to the Church, close to the Holy Father, together with the Nation... These three dimensions of the weekly have been penetratingly presented in the documentary entitled '80 Years in the Service to the Church', shot in the television studio of 'Niedziela' in the jubilee year of the paper. The authors of the film managed to reach the people who remembered the pre-war history of the weekly, its founders, editors and distributors. They chose these issues that testified to the dynamic development of the paper, which has been also distributed among Polish immigrants doing seasonal work abroad. The post-war editors Fr Dr. Antoni Marchewka and Zofia Kossak-Szczucka shared their fate in a unique way; their stories were told by Prof. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, the secretary of the writer during the war and the fellow prisoner of Fr Marchewka in the Stalin's casemates. Listening to the words of the witness of the two totalitarianisms we get to know the people for whom God, honour and Homeland were not empty words. Scenes depicting the hard years of the paper chop and change: fight against censorship, limits of printing paper and problems with distribution. In 1953 the paper was silenced and the situation lasted 28 years. Its latest history, commencing with 1981, is told by the witnesses of the present-day success of the paper: its publishers, editors, readers, collaborators and friends. The Student Pastoral Centre in Czestochowa, with its chaplain Fr Ireneusz Skubis, played a great role in the 1970s. It was in this environment that the idea of distributing the underground publication 'Monitor Koscielny', which contained mainly the teaching of John Paul II, originated. Those people joined the first editorial board of 'Niedziela', restored in 1981. The editors speak about their experiences with the censorship that interfered even with the statements of Pope John Paul II and the Holy Scriptures. Father Jerzy Tomzinski, who was the editor of 'Niedziela' in those times, talks in a vivid way about the dedication of the founders who were toing and froing, in the rain and snow, between the printers and the censor in Opole and the editorial office in Czestochowa.
The use of various media, the increasing circulation and distribution in new environments of readers, including distribution abroad, were the decisive factors in the success of the paper in the media market, including non-Catholic media. Dignitaries of the Church, members of the Parliament, men of culture and art speak about that fact as well as about the role of the weekly among Poles in their homeland and abroad.
The documentary '80 Years in the Service to the Church', introducing the history of the biggest Catholic paper in Poland and Central-Eastern Europe, testify on unique people, unique works and unique times. Aiming at preserving the past the film is a wonderful testimony to form the future. It can become a perfect source to be used by teachers of history, Polish, political sciences and religious instruction. (You can contact our editorial board, phone +48 34 365 19 17).

Documentary 80 lat w sluzbie Kosciola (40 minutes)
Production: Jolanta Palasz
Camerawork: Michal Janik, Grzegorz Gadacz
Montage: Grzegorz Gadacz, Jolanta Palasz
Collaboration: Anna Przewoznik, Marcin Myslek
Consultation: Fr Dr Ireneusz Skubis, Fr Mariusz Frukacz

The authors used the archival material of the collection of 'Niedziela', the Primate Institute, the National Library in Warsaw and private archives of the editor-in-chief Rev. Msgr Ireneusz Skubis.

"Niedziela" 53/2006

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