Wednesday presented us with a bittersweet day as a pilgrim group. On the one hand there was a level of excitement as we knew that we would be meeting our host family later that afternoon. But on the other, a tinge of sadness as we also knew that we had to say farewell to our fabulous tour guide, Katarzyna, who had been with us for all of our time in Poland. It also meant that we had to say goodbye to the wonderful Kalwaria. In the words of the Beatles, it was indeed a hello, goodbye kind of day!
Personally, I had been looking forward to this day the most. As a pilgrim in Rio in 2013, I had a fantastic experience with staying in a parish and I couldn’t wait to get another chance to experience this. Despite my excitement, it was clear that other people were a little unsure of what this part of our pilgrimage would bring.
The beginning of the day was quite slow and enabled us to have the opportunity for quiet prayer and reflection time in the beautiful Kalwaria. Our lovely priests also made themselves available for Reconciliation which was a nice way to begin the next phase of our journey. We also had the opportunity to meet as a small NT group for prayer and a check in with each other.
We set out for Zdzieszowice amidst excitement and some uncertainty- what would our host family be like? What would the parish be like? After a somewhat lengthy bus ride-the traffic was quite busy! – we arrived at the church of St Antony and were met with a high level of enthusiasm from the parishioners! We were greeted with song and the traditional welcoming gift of bread and salt! After a short while, we were introduced to our host family and taken into the incredibly welcoming atmosphere of their homes.
My host family are wonderful. They don’t speak much English and I don’t speak much Polish, but nevertheless, the short time I have spent here with them has been full of love, and a lot of Polish-English dictionary use! I was treated to ice cream and cream cakes all within half an hour of arriving and in fact I have just finished a breakfast feast! In addition, we have been treated to a showing of toys care of our resident four-year-old and a flute recital by the very talented eleven-year-old! The eight-year-old is a little shy, but I’m sure he will come round soon!
The family that Jess and I have been blessed with a truly a gift and are immensely excited to have us here and I’m very thankful that my excitement prior to arriving in days in the diocese has been greeted with equal excitement!
I hope that you are all enjoying the journey through Poland with us!
-Kirby (Pilgrim from Katherine, NT)