„Tygodnik Wileńszczyzny’’ informs that Vilnius archbishop Ginataras Grušas made a decision about liquidation of a practice of theological studies in Polish language.
The weekly writes that ‘’a study of theology in Vilnius dates back to middle 90s. It came into existence thanks to the courses for religion teachers that for the first time took place at a turn of 1989/1990’’. Their initiator was a parson from the Vilnius Holy Ghost parish, a priest Aleksander Kaszkiewicz, a current bishop of a Grodno region. The purpose of the studies was to educate religion teachers for Polish, Russian and Belarusian schools of the Vilnius archdiocese and to organize their work. Soviet times, when the Catholic institutions’ activities were blocked, caused staff shortage in this sphere, especially in the sphere of catechesis in Polish language.
The College got more formalized with time and the following institutions arose from it: Centre of Catechesis, theological studies (offering a master’s degree as a branch of the university in Białystok that is a branch of the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw) and catechesis studies (at the undergraduate level, as a branch of the university in Kowno). As ‘’Tygodnik Wileńszczyzny’’ reports, in a period of twenty five years, over a hundred persons have received their master’s degree in a general theology. Some, who completed their doctoral studies in Poland, have obtained a doctoral degree. The students are from Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, they are both laity and religious. A lot of them began working as a school teachers, mostly in Polish schools. The lecturers of the Vilnius College were the best theologians from the university in Poland.
The Catechetical Centre itself continued to educate in an extramural mode, mostly for the needs of catechesis among Polish population, which is the vast majority of Catholics in the Vilnius region. Formally, it didn’t have a status of a university. In practice however, it was some kind of a branch. ‘’At the beginning of the College existence, it turned out that it’s easier for one or two professors to come to Vilnius than for 20-30 students to come to Białystok or Warsaw’’ – the Weekly describes. Problems with diploma recognition began. Lithuanian officials were not convinced by the claim that the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw (granting master’s degree) is on the list of universities which graduate course is equivalent to the Lithuanian’’. The Vilnius archbishop has currently delivered the Polish-language Centre of Catechesis the final blow by making a decision about its liquidation.
‘’Polish environment is feeling disadvantaged again as once again what is Polish is treated with neglect’’ – Teresa Worobiej writes in ‘’Tygodnik Wileńszczyzny’’- ‘’And it’s not about that faithful Poles don’t understand Lithuanian. It’s about that while not hearing their native language during ceremonies, they feel eliminated from the church environment in Lithuania’’. As an example of such an elimination, she points to The Congress of Mercy that took place in Vilnius in May – ‘’Polish participants didn’t have a chance to hear their native language during general prayers. Why didn’t the organizers take care so that even a small part of Divine Mercy (that was recited on Saturday at the Cathedral Square during the penitential celebration) was said in Polish? A lot of the faithful in the Vilnius diocese is Polish. Especially, that this is the language in which Jesus dictated the prayer to Saint Faustina. Even though, the Congress of Mercy took place at the national level, the faithful who came from Samogitia or Lauda surely wouldn’t mind a few words in Polish.
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.