WE ARE REMINISCING THE FATHER OF THE LIGHT-LIFE MOVEMENT
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
Fr. Francis Blachnicki (born in 1921), a servant of God, died in German Carlsberg on 27 February 1987. I knew him personally during his priestly youth, when he was a vicar in the parish of St. George in Rydułtowy, in the diocese of Katowice. He was a man intensively searching for basic life truths, the need of aiming at the most important thing was inscribed in his nature. At that time he met with Niepokalanów, which may not be a fact generally known – Fr. Blachnicki was more noticeable at the time of his older age, during his studies at the Catholic University of Lublin. But, undoubtedly, his being interested in the thought of Father Maskymilian Kolbe had an influence on his early priesthood. At that time nothing was said about the canonization of Father Maksymilian, but Fr. Francis was studying his teaching very fervently, was learning about his thought, his cult to Mary and knowledge about Mary. We must note here a biweekly supplement to ‘Gość Niedzielny’ entitled ‘Immaculate Mary wins’, where Fr. Blachnicki used to express his great desire, when readers would be related with Our Lady, so that She would be their patron in, among the others, a fight for consciousness of the nation.
Fr. Francis Blachnicki, arrested in 1940 by Gestapo, experienced the Nazis camp in Oświęcim, then he was in investigation prisons. In 1942 he was sentenced to death penalty for conspiracy activity against the Nazis Third Reich. The death penalty was later changed into 10 years of hard imprisonment. When after 3 years he regained freedom, he joined a seminary. As a priest he worked in various parishes. He also started pastoral work which initiated youth’s religious oasis groups. In 1961 he was arrested for ‘popularizing untrue news’ about persecution of the Church in Poland and he was imprisoned in Katowice. He was sentenced for 13 months in suspense for three years. When he left the prison, the bishop of Katowice sent him for studies at the Catholic University of Lublin. At that time he was also a student of this university and I met with Fr. Francis there. At that time he had already had a pastoral vision – the Light-Life Movement. It was his unusual interesting concept of working with young people whom one should suggest something. But it was not very easy at that time. Communists were controlling young people so much that they would not undertake any work on themselves. The religious oasis groups for the youth, which were organised by Fr. Blachnicki were understood as a danger for the system.
Pastoral ministry of Fr. Francis in religious oasis groups for the youth were well-considered and well-organised. First of all, he based than on the Holy Scripture, using various terms from the Old Testament as mottos of particular actions, for example, ‘A Tent of a meeting’. Thanks to these biblical pictures it was easier to justify oneself to communists and do what one wanted to. So, it was difficult for communists to attack him, although he was being controlled by the Security Services all the time. His actions were noticed by cardinal Karol Wojtyła at that time who took them under his care. He understood him very well, with his Krościenko, symbolizing such fruitful meetings with the youth today. It was a great matter. The genius of Fr. Blachnicki told him to take care of the Polish youth, show that young people are valuable, searching and very needed by the Church and Homeland. In the difficult 70s of the last century it turned out that despite attempts of communists, young people want to live the God’s spirit and are the hope of the Church and the nation. After many years we see that the Light-Life Movement, initiated by Fr. Blachnicki, comprises not only young people, is still lively and is serving to our young people, parishes, society. And it is necessary to encourage priests to raise the spirit of religious oasis groups among young people and embrace them with warm-hearted care, and then it will bring invaluable benefit to everyone. Although we live in a free country today, there is not enough friendliness to this kind of work with the youth from liberal options, which impose a different life style. Therefore, priests should be close to young people. Let’s have a look at how Fr. Blachnicki could work for the young generation. How much willingness he had for this work, how many ideas he had! But we cannot omit the fact that, first of all, there was a great prayer. Nobody would have initiated such a movement by himself. Young people are still a big challenge and a big task for priests. We also owe it to Fr. Blachnicki who will surely speak to us more expressively at the time of his beatification. Great and fruitful works are possible and are blessed by God, one is facing up to the difficult reality in the name of God. ‘Sunday’ has always had a friendly attitude towards religious oasis movements among young people. What we are doing today for our them – in the form of weekly pages entitled – ‘Sunday for youth’ is a similar work on the spirituality of the youth, on its consciousness of the only purpose of life, achievable only with God.
So, I cordially invite the religious oasis movement for the youth to read ‘Sunday’ and its pages addressed to young people. And when on the occasion of the death anniversary we are reminiscing the servant of God Fr. Francis Blachnicki, let’s remember about a fervent prayer for beatification of this priest, who devoted his whole life to upbringing of the youth, who understood young people in a special way, who knew how to make them happy.