Shortly after the beatification of our Founder, Blessed Stanislaus Papczyński, we started to promote his person and work among the young people and instruct them in his charism, while offering the novenas to those who asked for prayers. The local faithful like that manner of praying, and for this reason we included in this year’s festivities the novenas enriched with biblical readings, the Chaplet of the 10 Evangelical Virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the litany of Blessed Stanislaus Papczyński. We have already received several testimonies of graces granted, fruits of his intercession, thanks to these prayers.
Father Yves Oumarou, MIC, organized a group of young people called Young Friends of Stanislaus Papczyński and the Marians (JASPAMA) whom he catechizes and for whom he runs retreats. Taking as his model the Marian Fathers’ pastoral work in Poland, for two years, he has been organizing annual gatherings of the youth on May 18 – the liturgical commemoration of Bl. Stanislaus. Previous meetings of the youth took place at the community of Ngoulmakong, but this year’s event was held in Atok at the Divine Mercy Shrine. The young people spent three days on our mission’s grounds. They heard conferences delivered by the Marian deacons and seminarians, and took part in devotions such as the Divine Mercy Chaplet, adoration, and the liturgy of the hours. Also, they could go to confession, and meet the Marian seminarians and priests. Brother Łukasz produced a gallery of photos commemorating this event.
This year’s meeting at the African Marianki was attended by 106 young people, among whom were 20 visitors from the neighboring parish of Ayos run by the the Pauline Fathers, and 10 students from the country’s capital Yaoundé. The majority were youngsters from our parish. The event also included a concert, during which we held a contest for songs about the Blessed. The young people from Ayos won. Later that evening, we showed a movie about St. John XXIII. The Sunday Eucharist was the most important part of the event. The Mass was presided over by Fr. Grzegorz Myłek, MIC, rector of our seminary in Ngoya. He was assisted by Deacon Cyrille and the seminarians Joseph and Rogatien who led the youth. Father Francis Filipiec, MIC, delivered the homily. He talked about the readings, drawing particular attention to the following as models for imitation: the Risen Christ revealed as the Way, the Truth, and the Life; St. Thomas, who doubted first the authenticity of resurrection, but who believed and professed his faith by crying out “My Lord and my God” after meeting with Christ; and St. Philip, who was doubtful at the multiplication of the bread, but then became a link to the Greek community. In the second part of his homily, Fr. Francis spoke about Blessed Stanislaus who – by overcoming many difficulties in life – managed to find solutions and continue striving. Christ was his strength, along with Mary in her mystery and privilege of the Immaculate Conception. During the sermon, young people responded with songs composed for this occasion. At the close of the Mass, Fr. Grzegorz informed the assembled about Bl. Stanislaus Papczyński’s canonization process. This Sunday liturgical celebration lasted three hours and concluded with the youth processing through town. The police held up traffic while the young people walked through the streets singing, playing trumpets and drums, thus giving witness to their faith and belonging to Christ, as well as their love for Bl. Stanislaus. The portrait of the Blessed was carried at the head of the procession, whose participants were all wearing specially made white T-shirts with the image of the Blessed. The event closed with the communal agape, followed by heartfelt farewells.
Although the main festivities in honor of Bl. Stanislaus Papczyński took place in Atok, the community of Ngoulmakong was not forgotten. Father Francis and parish representatives visited there Saturday. He completed the Novena recitation and celebrated solemn Mass. The community treated all the assembled to a meal and gave gifts, which the faithful brought as offerings: two chickens, a few banana clusters, some plantains, and the traditional manioc and makabo. All those gifts were delivered to the seminary.
While summing up the event, Fr. Yve and I agreed that it was a worthy celebration in the African manner. The song lyrics were very moving: “O Stanislaus, guide us; you are our model, we want to go in your footsteps.” The dances included gestures pointing to his person and quick rhythmic steps, symbolizing energetically following in his footsteps. The youth also sang songs from his beatification time that spoke of our gratitude to God for all the gifts He showered on Fr. Papczyński and his work for the Church and the Marian Fathers. They ended in a refrain: “You are the Blessed. We praise God for you. Intercede for us…”
Marianki is a historic site – the cradle of the Congregation of Marian Fathers – located in Gora Kalwaria, Poland.
Francis Filipiec, MIC