Tuesday, November 29, 2011

(48) 1 - The Church in Poland III: The Domestic Church Movement (Domowy Kosciol & Oaza)

        We all attended a week long Cana Conference for married couples in 2008 and a two week family retreat called "Oaza" (Oasis) in both 2007 and 2008 as part of the Domowy Kościół (Domestic Church) founded by God's Servant Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki (1921-1987) to promote Christian marriage and family.  He spent several years in a Communist prison.  It is part of the broader Light-Life Movement to revive the Church in Poland after Communism.  

       Catholic families are organized into teams of four to seven couples all over Poland for mutual support, monthly meetings with prayer and Bible Study at one of the homes, an occasional weekend of recollection, and an annual retreat of one of three levels.  Each team is chaired by a leader couple with a chaplain who moderates the meetings and provides spiritual guidance.

        The goal is for the husband and wife to build true unity, increase their mutual love, deepen their faith, and to sanctify each other.....providing in this way the appropriate conditions to raise the children in the faith and build their domestic church.  Members are also expected to engage in daily personal and family prayer. More information can be obtained from their multilingual website, www.dk.oaza.org.pl.  The Domestic Church Movement already exists in the United States mainly in ethnic Polish parishes.  Perhaps the time is ripe to expand it into mainstream American Catholicism.

        Our Oaza retreat was held at a beautiful retreat house, for which the people raised the money and built it with their own hands in the Diocese of Rzeszow.  Both retreats consist of daily Mass, devotions, adoration, homilies, Bible Study discussion groups, and a renewal  of marriage  vows with a party of celebration.  I've married Jaga four times now.  The afternoons and evenings are for family recreation and fun.  Young volunteers take care of the kids.  

      The Oaza movement devotes each day to each of the 15 traditional decades of the rosary.  The Christmas and Easter mysteries are celebrated as a community fun get together.  The people who attend are the best of the Polish Church and the future leaders.  It's amazing how they are so creative in having good clean hilarious fun with no need for alcohol.  Real Christian community and fellowship are quickly developed among the 11 to 17 families.  Lasting friendships are made as well. 

       The Christian tradition here is indeed beautiful.  The more difficult challenge is to follow the Church's teaching and put the faith into practice in our thinking and daily behavior.  The Polish Church is truly blessed and rich in the liturgy, the sacraments and devotions.....an example to the world.  At the same time, I would like to see a more active parish life in the neighborhood churches with more youth groups and more men's groups such as the Knights of Columbus which serve the parish and the community in many ways and sanctify its members.  A few chapters of the Knights of Columbus have already been organized in certain cities, but not in Kielce yet.  My sister-in-law's parish, "Christ the King" does have an ecumenical youth group, a women's rosary society that makes one day pilgrimages to shrines, and has couples going to each other's homes for Bible Study.

         Although the women seem to have little power in a clergy dominated Church, they seem to be the pillars of parish life.  It is time for the men to step up and take the lead, both in the domestic church and the parish under the supervision and guidance of the pastor.  If the Lord's kingdom is to be truly established in any country ("Thy kingdom come").....not as a theocracy dominated by the clergy, but where Christian principles permeate the thinking and behavior of every person at all levels of society (business, government, education, the professions, the unions, the trades, etc.).....I believe that it must be driven by the laymen with minimal clerical intervention except for moral guidance as needed.  The women and the clergy cannot do it alone.


        We met some wonderful people and made some great friends at the family retreats. Among them are Marek Kalczynski, Grzegorz, Asia & Krzysiek Gluch, and Wojtek & Dorota Jarczewski. The Gluchs invited us to an evening kielbasa roast at their home and the Jarczewskis invited us to their home in Kracow for a couple of days. We had a delightful time with both families that are now beautiful memories.
       

1 comment:

  1. I Googled "Domestic Church Poland" and found your post. My husband and I just returned from a Domestic Church retreat in Lake Charles, LA which was put on by a wonderful Polish couple, their moderator, and a local couple and their DC circle.

    The whole experience is amazing and everyone is working hard to spread the word here in the U.S. From what we heard, there are circles in Chicago and down here in Louisiana - do you know of any more? God bless!

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