A 7% Christian

Artur Stelmasiak

‘To be fully happy you should give up your egoism and be totally lost in love for others’, says Krzysztof Skowronski, the fired director of Program 3 (Trojka – Three) in Polish Radio.

In March 1968 the three-year-old Krzys ran towards his mother saying emotionally, ‘They are beating students!’ ‘This was perhaps his first statement concerning political subjects. ‘He has always been interested in the world that surrounds him’, says Barbara Petrozolin-Skowronska, Krzysztof Skowronski’s mother. Then, when he was 10 years old, he hunted for mammoths with his colleagues. And when there were no mammoths left in Rakowiec in Warsaw he went to study at the university to learn what Plato had thought. And finally he thought so deeply that in the early 1990s he felt hungry. He bought a roll and saw that next to the grocer’s some people recruited for jobs in Radio Zet (then Radio Gazeta). He joined the line just out of curiosity. And as he says himself, accidentally a philosopher became a radio journalist. ‘They must have accepted me since I was the only one with a roll in my hand’, Krzysztof Skowronski jokes.

The most important moment in life

It must have been by accident that Anna Tyczynska came to the Radio. She had no appointment. She was to interview some journalist about the foundation created by some acquaintances of hers. She asked whether the Radio would join the promotion of hippotherapy. The editorial board asked Skowronski to talk to her. ‘Krzysztof was soon interested in me, rather than in the therapy. And then it continued and has lasted successfully until today,’ recollects Anna Skowronska. Krzysztof claims that the moment he fell in love was the most important one in his life. Thanks to that he can be a fulfilled husband, father and a happy man. Family is most important to him. And his job, career and other things are only additions. ‘When another person is more important than me it means that I have made the first step to happiness. However, to enjoy full happiness you should give up your egoism and get lost totally in love for others’, he confesses.

Difficult questions

When he returns home after work (he lives in Saska Kepa in Warsaw) his kids immediately hug him. Recently, his daughter, who is only one year and a half old, has learned to call, ‘Daddy Krzys!’ ‘Krzysztof can play with children very well. He has a very rich imagination and can find a common language with his kids very quickly’, says his wife. ‘Daddy Krzys’ loves children. He devotes a lot of time to them; he plays with them and invents a common ‘magical’ world. His wife and friends say that he is a fantastic father and the head of his family. He makes perfect contacts even with the youngest kids. ‘Other fathers have problems with that. But he is not afraid of being crazy, of singing, of crying or walking on his all fours. I think he would do well working in a nursery’, Anna Skowronska laughs. The questions about faith are difficult for him. On the one hand, he does not repeat clichés but on the other hand, he does not want to fall into banality. His attitude towards faith is critical. He says that he is only an apprentice of real Christian life. It is a different thing to answer the sociological question: yes, I believe in God, and it is another thing to behave as a Christian when we meet someone who is hostile to us. Then it is extremely hard to obey the commandment of love. If I consider such circumstances I can describe myself as a 7% Christian’, he confesses. And at the same time he explains that ‘one hundred per cent’ means unconditional love of your neighbour regardless of the evil that the world does to us. People usually refer to God when they have some problems, difficult moments. Does Krzysztof Skowronski often use this help? ‘In difficult moments it is easy to kneel. But the most difficult thing is to pray when all things are right. That’s why I try to remember that Lord God is neither grace that we have for support in our life nor a mobile phone we use when he have some problem. I think that we thank God too seldom and we ask him too often.’

Marriage – made in JP2

When Krzysztof Skowronski was 14 years old, John Paul II made his first visit to Poland. Then from his flat in the district of Rakowiec, Warsaw, Krzysztof could admire the cheering crowds standing along the way of the Pope’s vehicle. ‘During the next visit in 1983 we were better prepared. We had a poster – a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa and under it the inscription ‘June ‘83’ written in Solidarity-Cyrillic letters. From that time every word of John Paul II was important to us’, recollects Barbara Petrozolin-Skowronska. After years John Paul II was present in Krzysztof’s life with doubled strength thanks to his future wife Anna Tyczynska. Since she was brought up in the Krakow environment that called Cardinal Wojtyla ‘Uncle’. In the summer of 1999 the Skowronskis and the Tyczynskis went to Castel Gandolfo. ‘I would never suppose that I would have the luck to get to know John Paul II personally and to talk to him, to dine with him’, recollects Krzysztof’s mother. Anna and Krzysztof, together with their children, met the Holy Father in 2004, too. Then they took the decision to visit the Pope the next year. Because that would be a beautiful present for Krzysztof’s round anniversary. Skowronski turned 40 when the world held its breath. On his birthday, 2 April 2005, the Pope was in focus of the events and worldwide prayers. That day made a strong mark on Krzysztof’s spiritual life. That event gave him extraordinary impulse and strength. ‘When he returned to Poland he wrote the most beautiful text in his life, showing who John Paul II was for him’, Petrozolin-Skowronska thinks. Then he published a moving volume of documents, included in the calendar of events ‘the time of passing’ entitled ‘Santo Subito – Habemus Papam’. He did it for free to honour John Paul II. Another important man who introduced Skowronski into the world of Christian faith is Cardinal Marian Jaworski, a close friend of the Tyczynski family and of John Paul II. It was him that in April 2005 administered the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to the dying Pope. The retired Metropolitan of Lviv, as the friend of the family, prepared Krzysztof and Anna for the Sacrament of Matrimony, blessed their marriage and then baptised their children. One can say that the Skowronski family is lucky. They had the teachers of faith from the ‘highest shelf’. And now they face the challenge to pass this deposit to next generations. ‘Every evening we try to pray together. Although it is not easy to make all four children concentrated and disciplined we show them that faith and prayer are the centre of human life’, says Anna Skowronska.

He is fascinated by man

The former director of ‘Trojka’ is an open man. He does not desire power and his career is rather a side result of his hard and honest work. His colleagues think that he is a professional. When he managed the radio channel it gained new listeners. ‘Those thrown by the political wind usually find their places in our programme. In most cases they have had little to do with the radio. But Skowronski’ nature is the radio. We did not have such a director for a long time’, says Wojciech Marczyk, a journalist working for the Polish Radio. Managing the radio station made him happy, but he experienced difficulties. ‘He does this for people and for the radio and not for power’, says Rafal Slaski, who has been Krzysztof’s friend for many years. ‘Every authority is to serve people. And this is my approach to authority’, adds Skowronski. At work he did not show his superiority. He was a colleague for all people and only sometimes he was their boss. ‘He can find strong points in everyone and does his best to give people their most suitable tasks. He knows very well that when someone does something he enjoys doing he is more creative and effective than others’, Slaski emphasizes. Krzysztof has practically all characteristics to be a journalist. Non-controllability and objectivism are the values he has followed. And he is uncompromising in this sense. And he was faithful to his ideals when he resigned from Radio Zet. ‘I did not like the direction of commercialisation the station aimed at. I quitted the job and today I can see that I was right’, Skowronski stresses. Anther value that makes him a good journalist is his curiosity for the world and people. ‘During holiday I saw many times how Krzysztof approached those that were standing at some beer kiosk and talked to them for a long time. He has never looked down on people’, Slaski says. ‘He is fascinated by every man. He wants to know what other people think and how they see the world. He simply loves people and this is very important in this profession’, the friend of the Skowronskis adds.

Man, not angel

The former director of ‘Trojka’ has many features that can make him be a good boss, excellent father and husband. ‘Although I am very happy with him he has vices, too. He is only a man, not an angel,’ says Krzysztof’s wife. And she adds that for years she has tried to help his husband give up smoking. But he has not given up smoking. When I met Skowronski to make this interview with him he was still the director of ‘Trojka’. But then he was having ‘hard time’, as he said. ‘I had a sleepless night’, he said drinking coffee. After several minutes he began looking nervously at his watch. ‘I am having another meeting in town’, he said. Leaving in a hurry, he signed some documents in his office. Rushing he entered the radio kiosk. For a while he looked for his money in the pocket but it was in vain. So he asked for a package of cigarettes for which he would pay later. ‘I cannot do that! I must have order in my cash register’, the seller answered. Many bosses would have made a row. But disappointed Skowronski put his head down and humbly left the building of ‘Trojka’. In front of the building some smoker from the editorial board gave him a cigarette. ‘This is his greatest vice. Therefore, you must write about this habit’, stresses Anna Skowronska. ‘Yet, I have been very happy with him’, she confesses.

"Niedziela" 10/2009

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