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Family Congress unites Polish Catholics during Lent

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
April 10, 2019

Family Congress unites Polish Catholics during Lent

Cardinal Cupich led Stations of the Cross March 29, 2019, at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank, as part of the archdiocese-wide Polish "Seeking Christ Family Evangelization Congress."
Bob O'Keefe, Glen Smith and Jim Brodinski bread fish during a Friay fish fry at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank, March 29, 2019. Cardinal Cupich attended the fish fry and then led Stations of the Cross at the parish as part of the archdiocesan-wide Polish "Seeking Christ Family Evangelization Congress." (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Margaret Glowacki serves a fish sandwich at the March 29, 2019, Friday fish fry at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Altar servers prepare to lead the procession for Stations of the Cross March 29, 2019, at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank. Cardinal Cupich led the service, which was part of the archdiocese-wide Polish "Seeking Christ Family Evangelization Congress." (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich leads Stations of the Cross March 29, 2019, at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank, as part of the archdiocese-wide Polish "Seeking Christ Family Evangelization Congress." (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich leads Stations of the Cross March 29, 2019, at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank, as part of the archdiocese-wide Polish "Seeking Christ Family Evangelization Congress." (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich leads Stations of the Cross March 29, 2019, at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank, as part of the archdiocese-wide Polish "Seeking Christ Family Evangelization Congress." (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Young people pray as Cardinal Cupich leads Stations of the Cross March 29, 2019, at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Parishioners pray as Cardinal Cupich leads Stations of the Cross March 29, 2019, at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank, as part of the archdiocesan-wide Polish "Seeking Christ Family Evangelization Congress." (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich receives a gift from the young people of the parish following Stations of the Cross March 29 at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank. The service was part of the archdiocesan-wide Polish “Seeking Christ Family Evangelization Congress.” (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich receives a gift from the young people of the parish following Stations of the Cross March 29 at St. Albert the Great Parish, Burbank. The service was part of the archdiocesan-wide Polish “Seeking Christ Family Evangelization Congress.” (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

More than 1,000 people filled St. Albert the Great Church in Burbank when Franciscan Father Lukasz Buksa, from the Archdiocese of Krakow, Poland, joined Cardinal Cupich in leading Stations of the Cross for confirmation students on March 29.

It was one of more than two dozen Lenten events planned for Polish-speaking Catholics as part of the “Family Evangelization Congress” between March 15 and April 10, said Father Marek Smolka, coordinator of the archdiocese’s Polish Ministry Council. Many of them were led by Buksa or retired Bishop Antoni Duglosz, former auxiliary bishop of Czestochowa, Poland.

Both Lukasz and Bishop Duglosz have placed a special emphasis on children and young people in their ministries.

This year’s congress was the second time that parishes with Polish ministries cooperated on Lenten events. Last year’s efforts had more of a prayerful mood, Smolka said, while this year’s congress emphasized evangelization, in keeping with the archdiocesan focus on Renew My Church.

“The reason the congress is so spread out is that we want to get to all the parts of the archdiocese,” Smolka said, noting that there was even one Mass at St. John Vianney Parish in Lockport, Illinois, which is the Diocese of Joliet. “We want to make sure the people in the suburbs and the people in the city, on the North Side and on the South Side, have an opportunity to come to something in their area.”

Overall, Smolka said, he expected between 5,000 and 6,000 people to participate in the talks, prayer services and liturgies that were included in the congress. That’s an increase from last year, when many people weren’t aware of it.

The service was the only congress event that was bilingual in English and Polish, Smolka said, because Cardinal Cupich does not speak Polish.

The families who attended, even the children, all generally speak Polish at home, Smolka said.

“The children speak English at school, but they go to Polish school on Saturday,” Smolka said. “A lot of them only know the prayers in Polish.”

Despite the strong Polish culture, many families say they don’t find the same joy in the church that they find in Poland. The congress was an attempt to capture that.

“We’re trying to bring the joy through evangelization,” Smolka said. “We want to bring the joy into the church and to be with the people.”

Father Mariusz Nawalaniec, St. Albert’s pastor, said having a Lenten fish fry before Stations of the Cross every Friday has helped his parish build community. The parish usually sells 700 to 800 fish dinners, and draws about 800 people regularly for Stations of the Cross, offered in Spanish, English and Polish every Friday during Lent.

The congregation on March 29 was a bit bigger because young people from Polish schools on the North Side and Oak Lawn attended.

“It’s good for people to come together,” Nawalaniec said.

Topics:

  • lent
  • polish heritage

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