Fortunately we have confession

Piotr Chmielinski

A journalist, columnist, author of many books and documentaries. Gifted with a distinctive, typical radio voice. Recently he has been involved in educating young people. He is fascinated by John Paul II and Saint Josemaria Escriva.
I meet Pawel Zuchniewicz in his office of the Association ‘Sternik’, which runs schools and nursery schools for boys and girls. This relatively new initiative of a group of parents and teachers that has created a unified and consistent educational offer, based on the individual approach towards each pupil, respect of their freedom and the Christian vision of man and his life. ‘In our offer school and family go hand in hand. We think that the first and irreplaceable place to bring up children is family, and school should be only ‘prolongation of home’. Therefore, the schools run by ‘Sternik’ are mutual work of families’, says Zuchniewicz. He is responsible for the flow of information both within the association and outside, e.g. contacting journalists and all those who are interested in the association.

Faithfulness in the small things

Very tall, with a beard, smiling. A typical storyteller. He is eager to talk and his talks are long, especially when the subject concerns his beloved person John Paul II. ‘He fascinates me. Not only because he was great and he changed the world. First of all, because he managed to be so fatherly and faithful. Faithful in the small things. When he took up something he had to finish it’, Zuchniewicz stresses.
He has already written several books about the Pope. ‘Lolek. Mlode lata Papieza’ [Lolek. The Pope’s Early Years] is a biographical novel of the first twenty-five years of the life of the future Pope. The second part of this biography is ‘Wujek Karol. Kaplanskie lata Papieza’ [Uncle Karol. The Priestly Years of the Pope]. It presents the life of Karol Wojtyla in 1946-1958, the year he became bishop. The third part will be published soon and will be entitled ‘Habemus Papam’. Pawel Zuchniewicz is also the author of the book ‘Jestem z Wami’ [I am with You] about the life and teaching of John Paul II in the form of an interview and of the book ‘Nasz Papiez’ [Our Pope] – an illustrated biography of Karol Wojtyla.

Book written in spite of his wife

However, the most known book of our hero is ‘Cuda Jana Pawla II’ [The Miracles of John Paul II]. That book might have never been written. ‘You must not write it. You cannot make business on the Pope’, Pawel’s wife firmly stated when he told her that he intended to write such a book. ‘She was right. But I felt that I had to write it. I found many unique dramatic stories that had changed people’s lives. You had to show them, especially that during the lifetime of the Pope little was said about the healings and other graces obtained thanks to his intercession. I know that this book helped many people and it gave them hope. And then my wife admitted that I had done the right thing, having decided to write about the miracles. She saw that they as if ‘wrote themselves’ and you could not, even if you wanted, make sensational news’, Zuchniewicz says. In his opinion what was most extraordinary in the stories of miraculous recoveries was the fact that they would have not probably happened if the Pope was not the way he was – quite ordinary. ‘He approached people, talked to them, heard their prayer intentions’, Zuchniewicz stresses. The Ninth Grammar School named after Klemenstyna Hoffmanowa is regarded as one of the best schools in Warsaw. Pawel Zuchniewicz finished this school in 1980. He extols his teachers very much. But first of all, he remembers the priest from the All Saints Parish in Warsaw-Srodmiescie, who taught religious instruction. His name was Fr Miroslaw Mikulski. ‘He gave me solid religious knowledge. I was fascinated that the world of faith was so concrete. I remember that after each lesson of religious instruction I told several non-believing mates about its contents. They listened with interest’, Zuchniewicz says.

Faith is the answer to questions

After graduating from high school he began studying journalism at the University of Warsaw. He wanted to be a journalist. But at the same time he was more and more aware that the answer to all questions was in faith. And you should deepen your faith. That’s why at the same time he began studies in the Institute of Family Studies in Lomianki near Warsaw. After having finished his studies he began working for the Polish Radio. ‘My professional work has always been connected with religion. I served during various religious events, the papal visits and the Youth World Days. I talked a lot about faith. Soon I noticed that it was easier to speak about matters of faith than to apply them. Every time you report such topics you face situations that verify the attitude of the one that speaks. My wife could speak on this subject most but fortunately, she reads ‘The Diary of Sr. Fautina’ and she is merciful. And what is more fortunate is the fact that we have confession in the Church’, Zuchniewicz adds. He tries to show the whole richness of the Church in his work. One day some American journalists asked him how he could write about the Church objectively when he was a believer. He answered them that to write about a given reality in a competent way one should get to know it well. ‘And then, it is true that one can see that the Church is weak and sinful people. And there is a whole ocean of good that one should show and reveal. The thing is not to ‘ice’ the reality. The thing is to show this deepest truth that evil can be overcome with good. John Paul II testified to that’, Zuchniewicz says. He has been involved in Opus Dei for many years. Thanks to its spiritual guidance he is convinced how important the regular application of simple religious practices, such as daily Mass, Rosary, meditation, is. He has put this principle into practice. Together with his family he takes part in the liturgy in the Presentation of Our Lord Parish in the district of Natolin in Warsaw. He always uses ‘Oremus’, with which he follows the liturgical texts. Thanks to that, two senses: hearing and sight, and not one, are involved in receiving the texts. ‘I am still learning how to use human attributes, the reason, the senses and various skills to deepen my relationship with Lord God’, he adds.

"Niedziela" 11/2009

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