Christmas Wafer meeting of the John Paul II Foundation Chapter in Great Britain

Christmas Wafer meetings which are ongoing from mid-December to the end of January are always very popular.  During that time, many organizations are having Christmas Wafer meetings and each one is different and unique.  Nobody cares and rather enjoys that sometimes people meet at the various Christmas Wafer meetings.  It is a time of joy with the birth of the Lord Jesus, and we look forward to t again celebrate that occasion. It is a time full of magic and unforgettable charm.  

The Christmas wafer meeting of the John Paul II Foundation Chapter in Great Britain took place on Saturday, January 12, 2019 in POSK – Łowiczanka restaurant in London.   A lot of members and friends of the John Paul II Foundation attended the meeting.  Tables were beautifully decorated, and the atmosphere was warm and friendly.  Once all participants took their place, we started our meeting.   

The President of the Chapter Ewa Szymanska in warm words greeted all dear guests: Bishop Wiesław Lechowicz – Delegate of the Polish Bishops’ Conference for the Pastoral Care of Emigration; Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission to England and Vales, Msgr. Stefana Wylężka; Administrator of the  John Paul II Foundation in Rome, Fr. Krzysztof Wieliczko OSPPE;   Consul of the Polish Affairs Radosław Gromski; President of the IPAK-Zenon Handzla along with his wife; President of the Polish teachers ‘ Union Abroad-Irena Grocholewska; President of the Union Citizens in GB-Helena Miziniak with husband, President of the POSK-Joanna Młudzinska, Director of the Polish Library, Dobrosława Platt with husband; President of the Medical Aid for Poland Fund – Dr. Bożena Laskiewicz;  Manager of the District’s Organization of the Older Scouts in GB-Grażyna Pietrykowska; former President of the AK, London’s Branch, Marzena Schejbal, and many other representatives of various organizations such as:  Karpatczyk’s Association 3DSK, Combatant Association, Katyń Families Association, Polish Association, Polish Cultural Foundation and gen. Sikorski Museum.  The President also welcomed the music and vocal band: Teresa Greliak, Ryszard Bielicki along with wife, under the direction of the famous musician Andrzej Matuszewski.  Then, on the occasion of the New Year she made cordial wishes of health, prosperity and God’s blessing at the same time wishing to all of us a nice afternoon in our John Paul II family. The introduction part continued Bishop W. Lechowicz who also asked for a few words Father Krzysztof Wieliczko, Administrator of the John Paul II Foundation in Rome.  Father Krzysztof Wieliczko OSPPE presented goals of the Foundation, especially emphasizing scholarship awards granted to young people from former Soviet Union countries which allow them to study at the Catholic University of Lublin and then upon graduation to return to their homelands to spread their knowledge in their original countries.  This is a very worthy cause and among our members we have a few sponsors who help students from Ukraine and Belarus.  Father Krzysztof mentioned also about other Chapters which are located in various parts of the world, not only in Europe and America, but also in Asia – in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, etc.   Father Krzysztof Wieliczko OSPPE travel from place to place, not only to spread the knowledge about St. John Paul II, but also to achieve another goal – to receive enough funds necessary to educate young people, to maintain the JPII Foundation Home in Lublin, Polish Home in Rome.  At the end, Father for the New Year wished all of us prosperity, health, and necessary graces from God.  He also expressed his gratitude for our generosity.  Every Thursday, at 8 a.m. Father celebrate a Mass at the tomb of St. John Paul II in the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and prays in our intention.  We are very grateful for all kindness and prayers.  At the very end, Fr. Wieliczko gave to all of us pictures with the relics of St. John Paul II.

Then, Bishop Lechowicz started a prayer and blessed Christmas Wafers.  Then, we jointly sang “God is born”.  The President of the Chapter presented the program of the evening: making wishes and breaking Christmas Wafers, then the dinner, concert, and at the end a lottery.  While braking Christmas Wafers, we were expressing kind wishes and that seemed to have no end.  Then, the dinner was served by the excellent service – always nice and smiling ladies of the Łowiczanka restaurant.  Meantime, the lottery tickets were distributed.  We would like to give thanks to all who donated prizes, which we had quite a few.  The most appealing were five large baskets with sweets.  After coffee and delicious cake, the anticipated concert started and lasted for almost an hour.  The program of the concert was very rich and at the beginning Ryszard Bielicki playes “Waltz As dur” by F. Chopin.  Other pieces were performed by R. Bielicki (piano) and A. Matuszewski (violin) and featured: “Warsaw Concerto” – A. Addinsell, “Salut D’Amour” – E.Elgar, “Lavender Hills” – N.Hess and specially composed by R. Bielicki “Posy carols”.  Teresa Greliak – beautiful, well-known vocalist and actress presented poems by Fr. Twardowski, K. Lewik, J. Szczawińskiego and other anonymous.  She also performed along with all gathered at the concert a few Christmas carols by Franciszek Karpiński, Teofil Lenartowicz, Piotr Skarga and F.X. Gruber.  Certainly, there was “Silent night”, “Sleep Jesus”, “When Christ is born”, “During silent night” and others.  We also had a chance to listen to a beautiful song “Our Lady of Bethlehem”. Artists ended this wonderful concert with the New Year’s wishes for all gathered at the concert and their gratitude for the recognition and warm applause.

Then, the time for prizes came.  As in the past, the lottery oversaw Danusia Krawiec, Grażynka Wojciechowska and Alfred Winiecki.  There were a lot of fun and some people won multiple prizes.  A great applause – we were able to collect £259.  It is sad that the turnout was not the same as in previous years, as several people were not able to attend our meeting. At the end of the meeting, the President gave thanks to the priests, guests, members and friends of the John Paul II Foundation Chapter for their presence and family, warm atmosphere as well as expressed our gratitude to the wonderful artists for the beautiful concert.  The President of the Chapter gave also thanks to Marysia Rumun and Grażyna Wojciechowska for their presence at the door and to the entire Chapter Board for their help in preparation of the today’s meeting.    

Ewa Konstancja Szymańska