In the history of each community, unique events and edifying meetings are remembered for a long time. Such an event for the Polish Community in the Diocese of Cork and Ross was certainly the first pastoral visit of Bishop Fintan on Sunday, October 17, 2021.
The Bishop spent almost the entire day among Poles, celebrating two Holy Masses, praying the Rosary, participating in a family picnic and visiting one of the Polish families for dinner.
The highlight of the visit was the Eucharist celebrated by Bishop Fintan assisted by Fr. Rafał Zielonka, CC Dunmanway, and Fr. Kamil Bachara, CC Ballincollig. The Mass was in English, but the hymns, readings, the Gloria, the Creed and the Our Father were in the native language of the Polish Community.
In his homily Bishop Fintan welcomed the Polish people to the diocese of Cork and Ross. He stated that despite the challenges of language we can share and celebrate the same faith, the same belief in the same God. Through baptism we are all called to be missionary disciples.
The Bishop mentioned as well that it is great to see so many young people and young families with their children in the church even if it was so early, at 9am. He also said that it is very challenging to maintain the values brought from Poland in this very secular world.
Bishop Fintan assured the congregation of his support and prayers to keep the faith alive in their hearts and the hearts of their children.
He invited the Polish community to participate actively in the life of the local Church and not to miss the point, which is Jesus who gives us life and encourages us to give that life to others.
At the end of the Eucharist, representatives of the community presented the Bishop with an Icon of the Black Madonna, Our Lady of Częstochowa, dear to the heart of every Pole.
The celebration continued in the afternoon. The family picnic organised at the Ballincollig Community Hall will certainly be remembered very well. There was a prayer followed by a presentation of the history of the Polish Chaplaincy in Cork and Ross and the current activities in the community. The Bishop was also able to get to know the pastoral groups of the Polish community.
After the presentation, everyone enjoyed a family picnic together, where Bishop Fintan tasted Polish delicacies, talked to Poles and took part in games with children.
The evening part of the visit was the Rosary said in different languages in St. Augustine’s Church in Cork and also a well-attended evening Eucharist.
The pastoral visit ended with dinner with one of the Polish families. The meeting at the table was an excellent opportunity for the Bishop to learn more about Polish customs, the history of Poles in Ireland and the dilemmas related to decisions regarding the future.
Hopefully this first pastoral visit to the Polish Chaplaincy will bear good fruits and will help to build deeper relationships between the Bishop, the Irish in Cork and Ross, and the Polish community.
May God be praised for the gift of this visit! Chwała Panu!