Although we have already started Lent, the Christmas season is not far behind us. While in some countries you can hear Christmas carols in November, in Poland we tend to prolong the Nativity celebration till the beginning of February. There is a beautiful tradition in the Catholic Church in Poland in which priests visit the families of the parish in their homes at Christmas time to pray, to chat and to get to know each other.  The pandemic that broke out in the world last year threatens to break this tradition not only this year. But on the other hand the restrictions strengthen apostolic creativity! The priests of many parishes throughout the country decided to invite the faithful to the parish church for a special Mass celebrated for „the Guests”. Where normally the people would welcome priests this time they were welcomed at the church by the priests. Because of the coronavirus the faithful were invited street by street, so that there were not too many people in the church at one time (we aimed at about 15 - 30 people).  We also had a special meeting after every such Mass in our parish to talk to our parishioners, asking them to share their thoughts about their lives, as well as the parish life. As the host, we also prepared a small gift for each family, a reminder that they are not forgotten when they cannot physically attend Masses in the Church. We did not broadcast this conversational part of the meeting online, to provide a space for more trust and openness.  One thought came to my mind when talking with these small groups of parishioners gathered in the church and sharing their faith and ideas: this could be the future of the Church and the parishes in Poland - the Church where the people know each other personally, not only recognizing anonymous faces of Mass attendees, but supporting and praying for each other because they simply know each other. At the same time, the challenge of this new reality for priests is to act more on a personal level, staying very close to the People of God. In Western European countries this idea may not be new, but in the Polish mass Church it seems a reality to come. Fr. Janusz Śliwa SJ, Pastor of St. Klemens Hofbauer Parish in Wrocław
At the meeting with us in Krakow, during World Youth Days, Holy Father Pope Francis encouraged us Jesuits to be even more open to help religious brothers and sisters, but especially to accompany priests. In response to this invitation from our Pope, in October 2018  in Stara Wieś (south-eastern Poland) we opened the Permanent Formation House, which we named Manresa. It has been over two years now of our service of helping diocesan and religious priests as well as religious sisters and persons in formation. The name of the house determines the spirit and direction of our mission. The spirituality of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is at the core of our ministry. We try to make Manresa truly a home that is always open to the clergy and religious brothers and sisters, where they can come and stay as needed, receiving help in both spiritual and human dimensions. We always serve by providing a place and time. We help those who wish to deepen their spiritual life or have weakened in their vocation. We offer them spiritual direction, psychological assistance, days of recollection and various forms of Ignatian retreats (5, 8 and 30 days). We also offer psychological and therapeutic programs to help those who wish to respond more fully and maturely to the grace of their vocation or are experiencing a vocation crisis. We accompany each person individually. Priests and sisters from different dioceses and congregations come to us from Poland and from abroad. The professors and graduates of the School of Formators at the Academy Ignatianum in Krakow help us to successfully offer our human formational program. In 2019 we hosted a group of 50 Sisters from mainland China for over a month. They took part in the course for formators of women’s religious congregations, which we organized in cooperation with the Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit and the association Sinicum. Two years of experience and reflection on the functioning of Manresa - the House of Permanent Formation convince us of the validity of o   ur discernment and encourage the development of our work and this form of our ministry.
In different places in Poland Jesuits since many years are involved in student ministry. The 10th anniversary of student ministry DACH in Wroclaw. This year student ministry called DACH, placed in Wroclaw, Poland and led by the Jesuits, celebrates its 10th anniversary. The group came to existence in August 2010 as an initiative of father Paweł Witon SJ. Here is how he remembers the decision to start a new student ministry: DACH gave me the opportunity to meet amazing people and taught me how to create a community. I wish DACH would always be a place where we can meet God, other people and develop our faith and creativity. At first the group included students who were previously part of a ministry called ,,Christianum” and students from outside of Wroclaw (graduates of another Jesuit youth group called MAGIS). Ola shares her memories and feelings with us: My university friends often laughed at me because my answer to their question what I was doing in the evening was always “I am going to DACH!” (I was lucky to live very close to the church where we were meeting). My friends were always very surprised because when they asked “Do you really pray there every day?” I answered “among other things”. I explained that we not only attend Holy Mass but also have sleepovers with movie marathons, dances, cooking events, board games evenings, trips to different places and so on. I especially recall our Holy Masses - familiar faces, singing together, standing side by side with friends so very close to the alter, praying for one another because we knew each other so well. We felt God was among us! Conversations that we had sometimes ended at dawn, and it all resulted in friendships that last till today. Trips to Biały Dunajec for the student camp were also amazing, our team was attracting everyone’s attention there with all our extraordinary ideas. Praise be to God for the enormous amount of work put into creating this community and for all these meetings with God and with people. Praise the Lord!   Today DACH consists of many students and it concentrates its activity around the spirituality and teachings of St. Ignatius, the founder of Jesuits. Students participate in Holy Masses on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and on Saturdays at 7.30 p.m. After Mass young people meet at the parish rooms to relax, talk, drink hot tea or to discuss some serious topics. Monika, the current leader of the ministry, says: A very important element of the activity of our ministry is the Prayer Group. During meetings we meditate on a fragment from the Bible, using the rules of the Ignatian contemplation prayer. By listening to God’s Word we can become contemplative in our own actions and by following His inspirations we can fulfill the commandment to love! The effect of this is the Formation Group, which provides space for reflection and discussion, as well as the Volunteering Group, which tries to go out to help the needy in the parish and beyond. This is the place where we share our talents, for example by tutoring students from primary and secondary schools. An integral part of the activity of our ministry are weekend events, especially trips. On September 11-13, 2020, in Wroclaw there was a meeting called ,,LoyoLove”, during which everyone had a chance to get to know DACH better. It was a time of getting to know one another, discovering and rediscovering both practical and theoretical aspects of our community and spending time together. We prayed, together, cooked together, played board games and talked a lot. That is how we got to know one another. And in that way we also got to know student ministry DACH, which we create. Even if somebody missed ,,LoyoLove”, not everything is lost yet. We have our student Mass every Sunday at 7.30 p.m. You can find more information on our web page at www.dadach.pl and on our Facebook fanpage. Fr. Jakub Biela SJ   Students’ creativity during COVID-19 in Kraków Since the beginning, the year of 2020 is special because of the unexpected circumstances of COVID-19. All pastoral plans and activities have been challenged because of the lockdown solutions introduced throughout the entire world. The same happened to “WAJ” – campus ministry at the Jesuit University “Ignatianum” in Kraków. Being unable to do the regular pastoral work for the college students we were forced to change the way how we invest our apostolic energy. We have discovered the power of internet and social media in our ministry. But we did not narrow ourselves to the virtual space. We came up with the idea to use the time of limitations to renovate our community space. Creativity, fun, brainstorming, and common work in small groups helped us to stay together, to do something positive, and to be ready for a new start as soon as it will be possible, while not ignoring the COVID-19 safety regulations. We found that even though we could not have spiritual meetings and prayers together in large groups, we still could share our spiritual thoughts and dreams through decorating our walls, trying to find the way of helping the new students to find God and be inspired by the Ignatian spirituality content found on our walls and in our common rooms! We renovated not only the community rooms, but we also refreshed the visual emblem of “WAJ” by introducing a new logo of our community. New design contains two major element: 1) open hands - a symbol which helps us to live as a community according to the words of Pedro Arrupe: “to be men and women for others”; 2) rays of the sun known from the emblem of the Society of Jesus to underline that we want to grow in the Ignatian spirituality. Thanks be to God for the power of a community which is able to use its own potential and many particular gifts and talents to serve even behind the doors of the world full of restrictions! Fr. Waldemar Paweł Los SJ  
On August 27, 2020 during the plenary meeting of the Polish Bishops 'Conference, Father Leszek Gęsiak SJ was elected the new spokesman of the Polish Bishops' Conference. The spokesman for the Polish Bishops' Conference is elected by the plenary assembly for a five-year term. The role of a spokesman is to maintain contacts with journalists, to facilitate their access to information about the activities of the Conference, and to assist bishops in contacts with the media. The spokesman also manages the Press Office. Father Leszek Gęsiak SJ was born on May 30, 1965 and joined the Society of Jesus in 1985. He holds a PhD working also as an assistant professor at the Institute of Journalism at the Jesuit University  „Ignatianum” in Krakow.  He was ordained a priest by Cardinal Franciszek Macharski on June 29, 1996 in Krakow. He studied theology at the Center Sevres Institute in Paris. For a year he worked as an associate pastor at the Corbeil-Essonnes parish (France). After returning to Poland, he became the prefect of seminarians at the Jesuit College in Krakow. He made his tertianship in Sydney, Australia, where he also worked with the Polish community at the Polish Jesuit Pastoral Center in Melbourne. After returning to Europe, he worked at the Catholic Office of Information and European Initiatives in Brussels (Office Catholique d'Information et d'Initiative pour l'Europe - OCIPE), where he cooperated with the institutions of the European Union and the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union (COMECE). He was also the coordinator of the Polish Section of the Catholic European Center in Brussels (Foyer Catholique Européen), the chaplain of the officials of the European Union and NATO, a member of the editorial board of the monthly magazine Europe Infos, and a correspondent of Vatican Radio from Brussels. At that time, he was also a member of the Team of Advisers for the European Union at the Polish Bishops' Conference. In the years 2003-2006 he was the Socius to the Provincial of the South Poland Province of the Society of Jesus, and then the superior of one of the Jesuit communities in Kraków. He was the editor-in-chief of the Catholic monthly magazine "Messenger" (2006-2010). In the years 2012-2017 he was the head of the Polish Section of Vatican Radio.
Beginning of the School Year in Poland. The government in Poland decided that despite the current situation and the pandemic it is possible to open the schools with in-person classes. The schools need to be prepared to implement online teaching or a hybrid model if there is a coronavirus case at school or the situation in the region gets worse. Currently, most of the primary and secondary schools in Poland work normally. All Jesuit schools in Poland started the new school year with in-person classes on September 1st.  I work at the Jesuit Educational Center in Nowy Sącz (Southern Poland) where we have kindergarten, primary and secondary school. How will it look like to work in the time of pandemic? How the students, teachers, and parents will feel in the new school year in such a difficult situation? What can we do to provide a safe and healthy environment in our community? Those have been some of the questions and challenges that the administration of the Jesuit Educational Center has had to face.  There is indeed a lot of uncertainty and fear as we start this new year. But not only those feelings are present among the members of our community. There is also a lot of hope that we can return to normalcy. Students and teachers missed normal learning. We can say that the pandemic allowed us to appreciate the school and realize that it is not only about grades, knowledge, and preparation for higher education. Schools play an important role in relationship building which is crucial for young people. Online teaching cannot fully replace in-person classes for our students.  Obviously, the safety of the students and their families, teachers, and other members of the school community is the priority for us. Therefore, the Jesuit Educational Center took very concrete steps to minimize the risk of spreading the virus at the school: Adjusting the schedule and assigning a classroom for every class in order to minimize the movement around the school and the contact between students from different classes;  Introducing the obligation of using face masks in the common spaces, such as hallways;  Posting special signage around the school;   Creating zones for students-teachers, parents, and other people entering the building;  Limiting visits of people from outside the school community;  Installation of hand sanitizer dispensers; Using professional air purifiers that the school received from a sponsor. All the measures listed above are important. The administration is analyzing the situation and looking for improvements. We are listening to students, parents, and teachers. However, the most important thing right now is the sense of shared responsibility. We believe that we can create a safe and healthy environment only if every member of the school community feels responsible for others. It starts with monitoring our own health and staying home if we have any symptoms of infection. We believe that this current difficult situation can help us to teach our students that they are responsible for creating a safe, healthy, and friendly environment at the school.
The Polish Jesuits serve to immigrants of Polish descent in Chicago, USA since 1934. The community belongs to the South Poland Province. For the last 20 years they have operated in the Jesuit Millennium Center, which is a place for pastoral work and a home for many different groups. From mid-March 2020, when everything stopped due to the pandemic, representatives of the Polish Christian Life Community In Chicago, based in the JMC, for the next 15 weeks, went every Tuesday to the homeless in downtown Chicago, bringing them food, warm clothes, and comforting them through their presence. Why did they do this? The conviction that the homeless need presence and help now motivated Ann, Ula and fr Jerzy to act. With the help of friends and with the support of benefactors, they were able to bring some support to those who were more in need at that time. See and hear their testimonies of this ministry (english subtitles): An unexpected yet eloquent sign of closeness and service, for example, was the haircut of one of the homeless, Steven. In these homeless people you could see not only the "face of Christ", but also the image of "God's child". The homeless turned out to be simple, honest and deeply religious people. Every trip for the team was a lesson of faith. These few months also saw dramatic events: flooding in which several homeless people died; protests and riots that broke out in many cities in the United States and their consequences. Trips with gifts for the homeless were also an opportunity to experience God's providence. At first people thought it was crazy to put themselves in such a risk, to endanger their families, but then they started to help, whether it was shopping or preparing trips. These 15 weeks were for the team, their relatives and the CLC group an evident sign of God’s grace in action.