• August 19, 2014
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Pilgrimage to Siberia: Rev. Darusz Stańczyk welcomed in Vilnius

Youth from the Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn scout troop from Vilnius welcomed at the airport in Vilnius rev. Dariusz Stańczyk who came back from pilgrimage to Siberia. Rev. Dariusz Stańczyk cycled solo 6780 kilometers from Vilnius to Irkutsk. He described his expedition organized on the 150th anniversary of the Saint Raphael Kalinowski deportation to Siberia as “pilgrimage of life”.

Rev. Dariusz Stańczyk set off from Vilnius on 27th May. His pilgrimage lasted 84 days, including 47 days of cycling. On the way he visited places important to the history of Poland, places of national remembrance, Catholic and Orthodox sanctuaries and met with priests and the faithful – not only Christians, but also Muslims – and took part in secular and religious celebrations.

“It was not easy to leave, people asked me to stay. I have seen how important it was for the priests working there – especially those from Poland – when the nearest place where other priest works is 300-500 kilometers away. Lay people also attended our meetings” – said rev. Dariusz Stańczyk.

During his Siberian expedition rev. Dariusz Stańczyk barely escaped death when a bus overturned near him. As he said, thanks to God’s providence he only has ended up in hospital for few days and has lost part of thumb.

Rev. Dariusz Stańczyk was enchanted by Siberia. “It is worth to go far into Russia. You do not need to be afraid of Russia. East from Moscow and Smolensk Russia still is an European country. Cities are beautiful, clean and developed. Modern and expensive cars stand on every street, I do not see such cars in Lithuania nor Poland. It is a sign that people there are doing well. Siberia is beautiful” – said rev. Dariusz Stańczyk.

Within Siberia one can find not only nature at its most beautiful, but also vast stretches of cropland. In Siberia rev. Dariusz Stańczyk encountered also kind and friendly people: those selling berries and mushrooms at the roadside, police officers, truck drivers, casual passer-by, municipality office workers and museum employees. “When I finally reached Siberia, I was able to compare people living near and in Moscow with people living in Siberia. Those from Moscow are unfriendly, suspicious, aggressive and hostile towards people. However, when you pass the border between Europe and Asia, you encounter another world: interesting and quiet, people ask how can they help you, they want to invite you and offer you some meal. When they find out that you are a pilgrim the will give you double portion of soup in the wayside inn. That was an interesting lesson for me.” –said rev. Dariusz Stańczyk.

During numerous meetings rev. Dariusz Stańczyk avoided political discussions, although he was frequently asked about the current situation in the Ukraine, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. “I was surprised that so many people in Russia do not know the history of their own country. When we entered into a discussion, it turned out that they have no knowledge about, for example, the history of 20th century. When I made a remark that Joseph Stalin murdered 67 million Russians, a man from Yakaterinburg said that it is not true” – shared his experiences rev. Dariusz Stańczyk.

Wherever he stopped, he met descendants of Poles. Most of them is aware of their descent, but unfortunately many have lost their national consciousness. They do not know that places they live in are important to the history of Poland, because of, for example, an exile’s cemetery.

Rev. Dariusz Stańczyk have so many experiences and memories that he thinks about writing a book. The bike he reached Siberia on was a gift from John Paul II. “This bike did excellent. Now it is in hands of the Carmelite Discalced Sisters in Usolye-Sibirskoye” – said rev. Dariusz Stańczyk.

Next year he is going on another pilgrimage: from Siberia through Ulan Bator to Nagasaki in Japan. In such a way he wants to mark the 70th anniversary of atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Simultaneously it will be a tribute to the Saint Maximilian Kolbe who between 1931-1935 conducted missionary work in Japan.

Translated by Maciej Jóźwiak within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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