BY ANTHONY BARICH
YOUNG FRANCISCAN Fr Lukasz Kwiatkowski joined the Franciscan Order because he was drawn to its founder’s connection with nature. He’ll get plenty of it when he embarks on his first mission to PNG, a 26km hike to the nearest airport.
In late May, Fr Lukasz, 29, ordained two years ago in Krakow, arrived in PNG and trekked the 26km to a remote church built by Fr Piotr Rzucidlo who accompanied him on the trip.
Fr Lukasz will work for a number of months in the Sandaun Province with Fr Piotr, who will help him with acculturation; then it’s just him and three other New Guinean Franciscan Friars. Franciscans have worked there since World War II.
Fr Lukasz could be there 10 months or 10 years. Such is the life of a missionary called to serve God through the instructions and life of his religious order.
While Fr Lukasz isn’t sure how he’ll handle the culture shock, as “Poland has become very western and people have everything they need”, Fr Piotr said it doesn’t matter how long a missionary priest stays.
“Even if you stay a few days, you have celebrated the Eucharist. That is the most important thing,” Fr Piotr said.
Fr Piotr, 42, was on his own for most of the 10 years he spent in Nuku between 1998 and 2008, because the other Franciscan who volunteered as a missionary to the PNG outpost went home after a few months.
Not a few missionaries have returned home after initially volunteering in a blaze of good intentions. Fr Lukasz admits he’s scared, but is confident that God will give him the strength to endure.
Fr Piotr, now 42, stayed those 10 long years because he always wanted to be a Franciscan missionary since he was a young boy watching Pope John Paul II on the television in Communist-repressed Poland.
More than that, he drew strength from the many elements that have driven lesser men back home, including malaria.
“I had fear, but I drew strength from it. I knew that if God wanted me to stay, He would give me support – and, sure enough, it came.”
“The people love God and love us as missionaries because we bring Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, so they go to church every Sunday; they have a sense of sin. Our modern world can learn a lot from these people, especially about simplicity and hospitality,” Fr Piotr said.
Source: The Record