”Polishness is our mother. You cannot be ashamed of your mother only because it is poor” – priest Józef Aszkiełowicz, the winner of the “Kurier Wileński” plebiscite, said during a ceremony of rewarding the most popular and meritorious Poles of the Year 2015.
On Sunday, in the House of Polish Culture in Vilnius, the 18th gala of the readers of “Kurier Wileński” took place –” Pole of the Year 2015″. At its beginning, the chief editor of the journal Robert Mickiewicz informed gathered people that the rules of the contest had changed. Both the final ten and the winner were chosen not only by the readers but also by the chapter.
The Final ten
Among the final ten laureates there were priest Józef Aszkiełowicz, a parish priest at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Maišiagala; Bożena Bieleninik, a polish teacher at Rafał Kalinowski Junior High School in Nemėžis, a director of school theatre called “the Wander”, Renata Brasel, an art directior at Polish Artistic Group of Song and Dance ”Wilia”; a priest Tadeusz Jasiński, a parish priest of the Goly Spirit Church in Vilnius; Alicja Klimaszewska, a president of Social Committee for the Care of Old ROSS; Jarosław Niewierowicz, a president of the board at the Polish-Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce; Czesław Okińczyc, Lithuanian Act of Independence signatory, a radio director „Znad Wilii”; Apolonia Skakowska, a president of the Stanisław Moniusko Polish Cultural Institute in Lithuania; Mirosław Szejbak, a president of the Polish Schools Parents’ Forum in Lithuania; Jan Wierbiel, an editor of the wilnoteka.lt.
Barometer of social moods
“This contest has become some kind of barometer of social moods. What was distinctive this year, was the victory of a priest. Also, among the top ten, there is no politician. That’s a signal we need to think about it – lack of trust or maybe exhausted resources” – editor of “Kurier Wileński” Zygmunt Klonowski said. He also expressed a great satisfaction with priest Aszkiełowicz’s victory. ”Today’s media are becoming less and less independent for many reasons – those economic ones and many others. That is why, the church has to take a leading role here”- Klonowski added.
Black note in history
The ”Kurier Wileński” editorial office , according to tradition, awarded the journal’s reader who had voted for their favourites. Afterwards, the laureates of the “Pole of the Year 2015” plebistice took the floor. “Year 2015 was not very pleasant, maybe even a black note in the history of our school. I think that the selection of my humble self was not my personal achievement. Polish schools exist thanks to the parents who actively join together and put their effort into the school’s work”- Szejbak said, reffering to a situation of reorganizing Vilnius schools. ”Polish schools are the foundations of the existence of the polish community in Lithuania” he added.
”In 2015 Znad Wilii Radio and zw.lt site have acquired different meanings. We were trying to be objective, we kept an eye on Polish and Lithuanian authorities’ activities in Lithuania. I’m glad that it has been noticed, both in Lithuania and in Poland. Such a power of media is necessary for our chosen ones to serve the nation” – president of Znad Wilii Radio said. In his speech, Okińczyc stressed that 2015 was important for him for some personal reasons, as well – 25th anniversary of the state of Lithuania’s rebirth, sixtieth anniversary, publishing of his autobiography in Poland and Lithuania (Okinczyc. Vilnius Authority. A Story of Free Lithuania) and renovation of the fmous architect, count Rostworowski’s statue at Rossa
Proud to be Polish
”I am very happy and proud of this award. God bless You for a huge trust” – priest Aszkiełowicz thanked the editorial office of ”Kurier Wileński” and its readers. He also stressed that the award in a motivation for a further work of polish community in Lithuania.
”I would like to say that there is a pride in me derived from the fact that I’m Polish, that I’m the ancestor of heroes and saints of our national history, that I’m a son of a nation that had and has a huge impact on Europe’s and world’s history, a son of a nation trampled and crushed like a grass which arose and grew back however, which brought peace, faith and love to other nations”-The Pole of the Year said. Priest Aszkiełowicz pointed that Polish nation is one of the most faithful nations to the Roman Catholic Church. ”We have a great mission from God – to give Europe and the world the Christ, build a community of Christian virtues, proclaim God’s mercy, destroy devil totalitarianisms and prepare for the ultimate arrival of Jesus” – priest Aszkiełowicz added.
In his speech, the parish priest of Maišiagala church stressed that Poles should protect their Polishness. ”Polishness is our mother. You cannot be ashamed of your mother only because it is poor” – priest Aszkiełowicz stated.
After the official part, there was a screening of the film about priest Aszkiełowicz which was a gift from the parishioners. Afterwards, representatives of the state authorities, self-government authorities, diplomatic corps of the Republic of Poland, parishioners and friends congratulated Pole of the Year 2015, and then a greeting song was sung.
Tłumaczenie by Aleksandra Nowakowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Aleksandra Nowakowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.