- July 20, 2014
14th Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and Association of Poles in Lithuania Family Tourist Gathering
That weekend, 14th EAPL and APL Family Tourist Gathering was held by the beautiful Lake Asveja in Bieliškės, Sužionių eldership.
On Saturday, the host of the opening ceremony of the gathering, Bożena Stelmakowa, greeted everyone who had came there–parents, children, teenagers, representatives of local authorities. About a thousand people participated in the event. The first speaker was Waldemar Tomaszewski, the leader of the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and Member of the European Parliament, who greeted all present.
Tomaszewski thanked everyone for their work for national minorities in Lithuania, pointing out that EAPL, despite difficulties, gets more and more votes in elections thanks to the effort of many people. The leader of EAPL reminded about another important challenge: the next year’s local election.
“Before the very important battle in February, to which we’re going to start preparing in September, we need to rest well, and that’s why we came to such an event. So I wish you all good rest and a lot of fun in the spirit of our unity and solidarity. We are all one big family which will be getting stronger,” said Tomaszewski, adding that “Poles have lived on this land for generations; it is our Homeland and we have a right to govern it as well.”
Many distinguished guests from the Vilnius Region came to the event, as well as friends of Lithuanian Poles from the Motherland.
“Thank you for an opportunity to be here with you for the fifth time. Gatherings like this strengthen the Polish spirit that made Poland grow beautifully; you’re loyal Lithuanian citizens, although not everyone in Lithuania remembers about that,” said Longin Komołowski, the chairman of the Association “Polish Community” and a former Deputy Minister of the Republic of Poland.
Tomaszewski quoted Augustine of Hippo’s words: “When God is in the first place, everything is in the right place,” and invited everyone to pray together. During the opening ceremony, priest of St Bartholomew the Apostle Church in Vilnius, Kazimierz Gwozdowicz, prayed for success of the event and blessed everyone present.
After the prayer, the members of the Seimas from EAPL ceremonially raised their party’s flag while the gathering’s anthem was playing. Later, the main judge Robert Komarowski invited everyone of all ages on behalf of the whole team of judges to participate in a sport contest.
To fulfil the sport tradition, Komarowski asked the organiser of the event, Wanda Krawczonok–a vice chairman of EAPL and a member of the Seimas–to ignite the olimpic torch of the gathering.
As always, various sport contests took place during the gathering. The local EAPL and APL teams competed against each other in volleyball, basketball, and kwadrat (“square”). People tried their strategic abilities at playing chess and draughts, and children participated in various activities including art workshops.
Near the end of the first day, there was a party. On Sunday, the guests went to the Holy Mass; later, the EAPL and APL teams once tried their sport abilities against each other. In the afternoon, the results of the sport contests were announced, and the winners received their awards.
Translated by Michał M. Kowalski within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.