• May 29, 2012
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The community of John Paul II schools visited Vilnius for the first time

Fot. Marian Paluszkiewicz

Friday afternoon, great and sunny weather. Vilnius, the schoolyard of the John Paul II Grammar School, from which several hundred smiling people – pupils, parents, choristers, scouts and journalists set off  accompanied by the sound of solemn drumbeats. They all chat merrily while strolling towards the church dedicated to Blessed Jerzy Matulewicz in which the Holy Mass concelebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Audrys Juozas Bačkis will soon take place. A mass in Polish.

This is how the beginning of the jubilee XXV International Forum of the John Paul II Family of Schools looked like. It was held from 24th to 27th of May and for the first time in Vilnius. This year’s  congress, whose motto was ‘It behooves us to build the future of hope’, was organized by the John Paul II Grammar School in Vilnius and ‘The Polish Community’ association.

― The organization of such a large project that was held in Lithuania for the first time is, above all, huge responsibility ― said in interview with  ‘Kurier’ Janina Wysocka, the headmaster of the grammar school. ― The three-day congress was scheduled down to the minute and we were a bit afraid if we manage to do everything on time. Luckily, guests were very punctual and there was no need to make use of plan B, that is to change the program.

Janina Wysocka informed that in this year’s forum took part more than 300 people from about 90 educational institutions.

― I would advise organizing something like that also for other institutions, e.g. for Władysław Syrokomla schools because there is a lot of them in Poland and in the whole world. Meetings and sharing of experiences during such congresses are really invaluable ― said the headmaster of the Vilnius grammar school that joined the International Forum of the John Paul II Family of Schools in 2006.

Janina Wysocka stressed that the main goals of such congresses are cooperation, taking care of Polish identity, traditions and  values propagated by the Polish pope John Paul II. The same opinion was held also by the participants of the forum.

― We have an extraordinary patron who changed the stern image of popes and who, thanks to his values, tolerance and courage, became an authority not only for the Catholics but also for many followers of other religions and even for non-believers. Nowadays we are in dire need of authorities, that is why we have to take care of the heritage of  the John Paul II that, unfortunately, falls into oblivion. We need to rebuild his ideals ― said Ms Ewa who came to the forum from Podkarpackie voivodeship.

However, she added that the feelings of connection with the community of schools that have chosen John Paul II as their patron were not the only reason for her visit to Vilnius.

― I wanted to see for myself how do you live here. We hear a lot of  good things about Polish diaspora in Lithuania. I’ve personally made sure that you have a strong sense of patriotism and hospitality, you remember about your identity ― stated our interlocutor. ― I also spotted something very important – that Poles in Lithuania do not lack honesty, which further to the west is not something obvious.

Within the framework of a forum a musical ceremony took place. The concert was performed  by  the pupils from schools in Vilnius with the Polish, Lithuanian, Russian and Belorussian language of instruction. Tatar and Jewish youths participated in the ceremony as well. Guests visited also the cemetery at the Vilnius Rossa, had a tour of an Old Town and Troki and watched the Polish Theater Studio in Vilnius show under the title ‘Streets of Vilnius’ directed by Lilia Kiejzik. Also the ‘meeting at the village table’  involving the musician Tadeusza Narkiewicz and Aleksander Śnieżko took place. One of the main points of the forum was the consecration of the place in the schoolyard of the John Paul II  Grammar School where his monument is due to be erected.

Around the world there are 1200 educational institutions that are named after John Paul II. The idea of the integration of the school communities which have elected pope as their patron originated in 1998 in Integration Schools Complex in Radom.


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

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