The congregation of The Holy Spirit

Justyna Giedrojć

The church is located in a picturesque place, in the heart of Vilnius Old Town. People often simply call it Dominican church. At the present moment it is the only church where church services used to and are still celebrated only in Polish language.

The Church possess many well-rooted, old traditions. Maybe because of these old traditions or perhaps because of very rich interior architecture the church is always crowded with parishioners, even during the week. During Sundays, although the church is quite large, it is always filled to capacity.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to determine how many parishioners is in the congregation. That’s how it usually happens in large cities because people often go to different churches, mostly those that are the closest to the place they live or the place they work. Disregarding everything, every church has its regulars. Most of parishioners go to this church from generation to generation. Once grandparents used to come to this church, then parents , next the children and grandchildren. Certainly, this tradition will continue for many more years, grandchildren, their children and their grandchildren will be coming here to pray. It runs in the blood.

One of my friends used to go to the Holy Spirit church as a child and then later when she started her own family. She bore two sons, with whom from their early age she used to go to the church. Unfortunately, the children were not as polite as angels and sometimes they stirred up troubles in the church. When one of them ran during raising the aisle, the mother had to react. Then a very “devout”  lady approached the mum and sharply pointed out that if she has such naughty children, she should stay at home with them. Years passed and the boys have grown up. The same lady approached the mum asking, what had she done that grown up boys go to the church every Sunday because her own children do not want to listen to her. The mum’s  answer was simple: ” Since their early years I used to go to the church with them.”

Both the answer and the mum’s activities were very simple, but also very meaningful. They can serve as a good example.” Children should be brought up from the moment they are born. If the mother since the early days does not go to church with the child or teach him/her to pray, she should not expect the miracles when the child will grow up.” – claims the church’s pastor. The child learns practically everything at home.

Although the church is located at the heart of the city it is not a convenient location for many of the parishioners. It is mainly because of commuting. Firstly, a big disadvantage is the fact that there is no car park and drivers have a considerable trouble where to park their car. Another disadvantage is the fact that the bus stop is quite distant. It makes very difficult, especially for older people, to go the church. For these reasons, some of our parishioners prefer to go to St. Raphael church, where the commuting system is almost perfect – says the parson Wiktor Bogdziewicz.

Another serious problem is the lack of place for meetings. In fact, there is only one, a fairly seizable room for all the groups so it is really crowded. Of course, the parishioners arrive on different days and times, but sometimes it causes some troubles. However, nothing is impossible to a willing mind.Sometimes it is worth to make a little effort in order to feel spiritually comfortable. So regardless of the type of inconveniences, there was not and will never be a deficiency of  parishioners. On the contrary, if the church is lacking something it is the rather the number of priests because there are only two. Because of it, they are constantly busy and sometimes they are not able to do their duties on time. Fortunately, there is a hard core of the congregation, who in many cases operates completely independently.

During years many traditions developed, mainly due to lot of work from the priests side. Today they raised a generation of both young and older people to such a level that many prayer or discussion groups have possessed their so-called “seniors”  who teach and lead the younger ones .

There is no way to list both rapidly acting young people, about 30 altar boys, as well as older people who work in a variety of circles, prayer groups, etc. These traditions have been formed for decades and remained to this day. We can boldly say that these are the traditions of our forefathers.

” I think that we, the people of twenty-first century have been captured by a severe disease and I do not know whether it is curable – it is  a consumption disease. Almost all of us want everything in life immediately, here and now. We want to have the most we can by the least amount of an effort. Just like pressing an appropriate button on the remote control or  on the washing machine. Everything would be done for us and we would  relax on an armchair. “- considers the priest Victor.

Meanwhile, such a theory does not always seem the best or gives us moral satisfaction. In life, it often turns out that what we gained with a great difficulty is the most valuable. And when it comes to faith, we have to constantly improve ourselves and our character, it is necessary to permamently  explore the faith.

And how  the parishioners of the Holy Spirit explore their faith? They do it in many different ways, ways which had been developed with passionate enthusiasm of both young people and the older generation for decades.

“We have four choirs: a children’s choir, two youth choirs and church choir for elder people. Each of these groups has its repertoire and its sphere of action. For years, young people take part in the traditional pilgrimages: Ejszyszki – Ostra Brama ( The Sharp Gate). They also have about five or six records with mainly religious songs and carols – says the priest Wictor.

There is also a strong group of altar boys. They are perfectly capable of fulfilling their duties because the elders constantly train and teach the young people. In this way, the new staff develops.

At the church acts a rosary group. There is also a Community of Precious Blood of Christ. Every Thursday, they pray for priestly vocations, practice Blessed Sacrament’s Adoration and  constantly pray by the rosary to the Blood of Christ.

There is also the Guard of Honour of the Sacred Jesus’ Heart. Its membership includes those who have a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There are also a study of theology, catechetical center, Pro-Life Community and the Community of the Neocatechumenal Way.

” For the work of the latest is involved a lot of people, some of them have been members for decades. In this community, people learn and get to know God, learn to understand the Bible. These things should be learned throughout the entire life course and even so the human is not able to comprehend and embrace everything.” – says pastor Victor.

One of the most important and relevant actions of the parishioners of The Holy Spirit church is the fact that these people, both young and old ones often meet each other to exchange opinions, share their experiences, talk about their problems and difficulties of spiritual life. Someone once said that when you  feel bad,  go somewhere where are people and they will help you arise.

CHURCH’S HISTORY

The first information about the Dominicans in Vilnius comes from 1321, from the times of Gediminas, but we do not know where exactly was the place they settled and how long they lived in the pagan (in that time) city. According to tradition, the first church located at this place was founded in the time of Jagiełło and Witold. In 1501, the church was transferred to the Dominicans by King Alexander Jagiellon. The gothic buildings burned down in the early seventeenth century. Another – baroque but still unfinished monastery was burned in 1655 by the Moscow army during the Polish-Russian war. Another temple was erected by Dominicans in the years 1679-1688, but in the years 1726, 1748, 1758 it was destroyed. In the second half of the eighteenth century on the framework of the old walls was built a new, late-baroque church. Unlike most Vilnius temples it has never been closed and survived as a Catholic religious building during Polish partitions (part of the church then was turned into Orthodox churches) and the post-war Soviet times. In the nineties of the twentieth century it was taken over by the Dominicans from the Polish province of the same order. Today it is called Polish church – currently it is the only one in which the liturgy is celebrated only in Polish language.

In 1948, the painting The Merciful Jesus was transferred  from the closed church of St. Michael to the church of The Holy Spirit. The picture was painted in 1934 by Polish artist Eugene Kazimirowski according to Faustina Kowalska’s tips. However, after a few months the painting was taken to the village of Nowa Ruda. In the years 1987-2005,thanks to the efforts of working in Vilnius during that time priest Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, this painting was again brought at the side altar. Several years ago the image was transferred to the neighbouring church the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy. It does not effect much because according to a long tradition (in the church is now a copy of the painting) every day at 3 pm. in the church is  held a church service to the Divine Mercy: the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Holy Mass. And although it is not the most convenient time, the parishioners attending these church services always arrive in large numbers.

Source: http://kurierwilenski.lt/2014/06/20/sylwetka-parafii-pw-swietego-ducha/

Tłumaczenie by Kasia Ratajek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Kasia Ratajek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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