- December 28, 2014
The Christmas Eve meeting of retired teachers
The members of the Retired Teachers Club gathered in Polish Culture Centre to share Christmas wafer with their colleagues and wish them all the best: health, fortune, good mood and peace of mind. Observing tradition, the guests, led by priest Józef Makuć, prayed, paying tribute of joy to baby Jesus and asking him for providence.
Such a meeting of retired teachers, who are certainly the brains behind the development of Polish education in Vilnius Region, constitute an occasion for seniors to share memories: those from youth time and these recent, since they joined the Club. The Club was set up 6 years ago, and its members create and preserve the history of Polish education in Lithuania from oblivion. And the one who contributes the most to this mission is Janina Lewczuk, a retired teacher, who diligently collects photos and press materials about the story of Polish education in Lithuania. In this way, she helps Zofia Kuncewicz, the president of the Club, to save the particular facts about the retired teachers activity for future generations.
Over 50 members of the Club have already organized many attractive events. Trips on historical routes in Lithuania, sightseeing the glorious places in Warsaw and Mejszagoła (in Lithuanian: Maišiagala), visiting Priest Józef Obrembski Museum, following the steps of Józef Piłsudzki and people fighting in January Uprising… The teachers from the Club often travel, because familiarising themselves with history through experience is the essence of their activity.
Devoted to their passion, the teachers plan new trips to satisfy their curiosity. They began this school year from sightseeing Druskieniki (in Lithuanian: Druskininkai) and the surrounding area. They also visited Grūtas Park, M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, grave of Jan Czeczot. Moreover, seniors arrived to Kopciowo (Kapcziamiestis), where Emilia Plater, a Polish–Lithuanian noblewoman and revolutionary, was buried. The grave of this brave woman was covered with white and red flowers – this is how the tourists from Poland honoured their national heroine.
This autumn, as they do every year, the members of the Club visited old Vilinius graveyards: Rossa Cemetry, Bernardine Cemetery, and St. Peter and St. Paul Cemetery. In their talks, the teachers remind about their guide, Wojciech Piotrowicz, to whom they are grateful for telling them the history of Vilnius cemeteries and people buried there.
We can only be jealous for how much energy and vitality these teachers have despite many years devoted for work in education. They have a thirst for knowledge, so they try not to skip any event important for the Polish community. The members of the Club lay flowers at the grave of Józef Piłsudzki, a Polish statesman, and his mother Maria. To be more specific, only Piłusudzki’s heart was buried there, as the inscription says: ‘Matka i Serce Syna’ (‘The Mother and Her Son’s Heart). Lately, the Club celebrated the 180th anniversary of the first publication of ‘Pan Tadeusz’ (in English: ‘Sir Thaddeus’) – the national epic of Poland. On this occasion, Janina Lewczuk and Irena Moracz took part in reading the most famous part of this work – the Invocation.
During the Christmas Eve meeting, there was also Krystyna Dzierżyńska, the vice-president of the Associaton for Polish School Teachers in Lithuania ‘Macierz Szkolna’. This association supports the activity of the Club and the seniors are grateful for the help. They also want to thank the Polish Culture Centre for its hospitality. Thank to these organizations, the retired teachers can meet, expand their knowledge and spend time in friendly atmosphere.
The hall, where the Christmas Eve meeting was held, has been recently renovated. So, the Retired Teachers Club meeting was an occasion to bless this place. The hall was blessed by priest Józef Makuć, who was ordained to the priesthood in May this year and works in one of the Vilnius parishes.
The young priest said that he was honoured to pray together with teachers during the meeting, because his choice to become a cleric was influenced to a large extent by his teachers from the high school (now gymnasium) in Ejszyszki (Eišiškės) and his family.
Translated by Joanna Stępińska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.