On 14th of September around 15 young people gathered in Białystok, Poland, for an annual CESR capacity building training. The small city near the Belorussian borders is the centre of Polish Orthodox Christians and their youth movement, which is spread over the whole country. A group of young people from Polish Orthodox SCM, headed by Marta Całpińska, hosted a very colorful spectrum of nationalities: from Macedonian and Hungarian through Slovak, Czech and Polish to German, Belarusian and Finnish. The whole seminary was only a weekend event, but the contacts from there are to be maintained for many more weeks, or maybe years.
The main goal of the seminary was to strengthen national Student Christian Movements through improving capacities of their members. Discussions on various topics and exchange of experiences were an integral part of the program, as well as ecumenical prayers and common meals. We’ve discussed the topics of fundraising, new ways of communication, vision and mission of our SCMs, local, national and European level of cooperation and many others, not always stated in the official program. The whole seminary has been provided by WSCF Europe and the Polish Orthodox SCM, Bractwo Młodzieży Prawosławnej.
On the arrival day we gathered around Hans Hommens, the WSCF Europe regional secretary, for a round of small self-presentations and getting to know each other. Almost every major Christian church was present: Orthodox from the east of Europe, Catholic from the central Europe, Evangelic from the west and other Protestant from the south. But still, as a Catholic, I’ve been really pleased to see other denominations gathering together for the same prayer, the same faith, the same God.
On Saturday we presented our local SCMs and their relationship towards WSCF Europe. Many of the participants have already been a part of previous events held by WSCF and their movements are already known in the federation, but not all of them. For instance Student Chaplaincies in Slovakia, which are the core organization structures of Catholic Church in my country for students, aren’t anyhow connected to any other international movement or even linked together. Honestly, I’ve realized how important it is to be open and willing to build cooperation among people. People are usually the source of ideas, which can evolve into much bigger projects helping not only their members, but also people around them.
On the last day we participated in an Orthodox service held in a nearby church. The songs, prayers and readings have been putting us in a meditative mood full of mystery and presence of the All-mighty. I’ve really enjoyed to be drawn into the prayer and the praise of the Creator in a very new and special way. Eventually, in the evening it was rather difficult to say goodbye to each other; the time we spent together has been enriching and intense at the same time.
I will say one of the major contributions of the event was getting to know each other. In the SCM where I come from, the activities are usually oriented towards students who come to the city for their studies. But to be open involves not only to exchange views on different topics, but also to offer the spiritual support, new ideas and friendships. Personally I consider this weekend event as a gift of broadening ecumenism and would recommend it to any other who is genuinely devoted to Christ’s Church.
Viliam Latta (Slovakia) was the participant of CESR Capacity Building Training in Białystok, Poland,
14-16 September 2012