- March 8, 2013
Vilnius Parish – Community Church. St. Kazimierz in New Vileyka
Not so long ago the St. Casimir’s church was the only church in the area. It belonged to a few nearby villages. 10 years ago there was established another one with a new parish. This does not mean, however, that the priests’ work disappeared since in the past few years more and more people in the church are looking for a strength to live.
At the church, which community is for several years chaired by Rev. Rudokas Ejgantas, there are two choirs (Polish and Lithuanian) as well as a running rosary group. The first Thursday of every month there is a prayer service for the priests and an adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. However, every Tuesday the young people from a group called TAIZE meet at a prayer in the Parish House.
The driving force behind everything that happens in the parish are the nuns living in the convent near the church. They obtaind help from the local teenagers and even children. Everyone here knows and perfectly understands each other and are willing to take part in all the festivities, projects or games.
Sisters teach religion in the local school, preparing children for First Holy Communio, which is mainly done by sister Margaret. For 10 years they have been now leading a children’s common room, whose motto is short, but very meaningful: ‘A house that is waiting’.
At the monastery, for 17 years now there is a team, playing and singing, called “Nazareth”, which consists of 15 people.
– Its founder was Rev. Daniel Dzikiewicz. Now, since 2006, I’ve been running it and I’m very happy with the youth! Once a month, we are always singing in the church during a mass. We also perform at weddings, funerals, fairs, baptisms and wherever we are invited, which happens very often — says Sister Mary, who generally watches over all the house here. Practially, the band “Nazareth” at the moment connects two generations of people in age from 15 to 30.
Each of the sisters has her own duty. However, some duties, such as cooking or cleaning is done by the sister who is not busy at the moment. Anyway, they do not attach a lot of weight to cooking and do not spend a lot of time doing so, because they usually cook what they have and what can be done faster.
When we came to the sisters, every now the door started to open when school children were coming. They sat in the common room to do their homework, and above all, the sister were supervising everything, and when the need occurred — they helped and explained this and that.
The naked eye could see that the kids feel right at home, the sisters were asking them how was their day at school, etc. After school, the children received an afternoon snack (usually a sandwich with something warm to drink). It is interesting that for the preparation of sandwiches (and even for cleaning) was often very welcoming for children who wanted to participate. Volunteers came to the lounge – they are older boys and girls who help in some harder and heavier work.
Within a week, the community is visited by 25-30 children between the ages of 7 to 13 years. Every day here come about 13 people.
It is worth noting that the common room is not just for doing homework, or drink tea. After classes, the sisters deal with children according to their interests. Someone draws, sings, someone tells some else interesting stories. There are also those who are interested in cooking, baking, preparing salads, etc. The older ones are often on duty in the kitchen, cleaning up the community centre every Saturday. Practically, here there are gradually prepared for the adult and independent living.
– The beginnings were quite modest. Over time, our the numbers children visitng were growing, and it shows the fact that we still have good relationships with their parents, who trust us and are happy — says Sister Maria.
With the older youth, who are volunteering, the sister lead retreats, dance lessons, lectures psychological discussions (if possible), they answer to all kinds of questions of young people, questions that are sometimes difficult.
Sister Margaret is very fond of religion classes with younger children in the Ignacy Kraszewski’s school. Of course, some children are better learned from the home base, others less, but all are absorbing new messages, but they need to be presented in an interesting way, sometimes in a funny way.
– The little pupils are very happy and they absorb the truth of God with simplicity, which makes me personally very happy and gives me strength — says Sister Margaret.
It is known that children cannot be “fed” with the truths of religion alone, or be forced to learn by heart these or other formulas. Religion should be a way of life and involve all areas: employment, education, entertainment. Last year, a lot of fun for the youth was a trip to the Polish sea in the vicinity of Elbląg. There went a group of children.
– It was a beautiful green holiday, which was organized with the help of the association Lions of the North. Sometimes a lot of fun and pleasure can be drawn from a trip to any places of pilgrimage and prayer. Of course, everyone has its own intention, it is sometimes associated with some discomfort and some difficulty, but if it is well-organized (including prayer, singing, and sometimes even entertainment), we do not have any trouble — adds Sister Maria.
A pilgrimage takes place every year. Recently, for example, there were two pilgrimages of penance (older adolescents took part in them). The young (about 15 people) went home at night from the house of St. Faustina to the village of Pryciuny, where sister Wanda of the Angels once lived (at the end of the twentieth century), who is tipped to soon become a saint. The young people liked this kind of pilgrimage very much because it is romantic to travel at night through a sleeping city and fragrant meadows, and watch the flowers here and there, scattered villages, farm buildings, fences barking dogs. And while there is plenty of time till the summer, the sisters and the young people are wondering how and where they should organize the next pilgrimage.
And here I think it is worth to aks the question: where do the sisters get funds for the events?
They never complain about the shortages of material goods. The parishioners are constantly bringing something to the convent. Everyone does what he/she can, but they are very pleased to support the work of the divine sisters, whose deeds each year (perhaps even modest) bear good fruits. Children who are closer to the church, working with the sisters are immediately known for their behavior, which is are better, more attentive, and compassionate to others. Often, the parents say that from the moment when their child began to attend to the sisters, going to church and ti the pilgrimages – they provide less trouble at home, cut the ties with the rebellious young people from the street, etc. But this one surprised us, because there are practically only two sisters in the place (third, Anna, recently went on a mission), how then can they cope? And they do so probably thanks to the help they obtain from their sympathetic parishioners and young people themselves. They do so maybe because God wants it, according to one of the eight beatitudes: “Whatever you did for one of these little ones, you have done me.” These words of Christ are not here an empty sound, but they are very actively put into practice. May the good God still support the work started by the sisters. God bless them!
Nowa Wilejka’s characteristic trademark feature is the slender church tower rising proudly above the settlement as if it still protected the inhabitants. The St. Casimir’s Church was built in 1911. Up to the moment the people prayed in the chapel. In 1906, the governor of Vilnius, at the request of residents, gave permission to build a church.
The building of the temple was designed in the Gothic Revival style. The construction work lasted for five years.
Tłumaczenie Emil Iracki w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Emil Iracki the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.