Oswiecim/Auschwitz, Poland - WCCM National Coordinators from Central and Eastern Europe

On 14-16.10.2011 WCCM national coordinators from Central and Eastern Europe met in Oswiecim/Auschwitz in Poland. The meeting chaired by Fr Laurence Freeman was attended by representatives of the German, Ukrainian, Czech and Polish coordinators, written reports were submitted by Latvia and Lithuania. At the meeting was also present  Kim Nataraja (with her husband Shankar), the Director of the School of Meditation.

Two days of meditation and intensive discussions and presentations were filled to the brim. Father Freeman gave the worldwide overview of the WCCm situation and reviewed major WCCM projects in the frame of the Meditatio program. Kim presented the School and Children mediation projects. In lengthy discussions participants shared their local conditions which either supported or hindered the promotion of the Christian meditation. They agreed on ways of mutual support in this work, such as exchanging experiences, strengthening the contacts between the coordinators and the meditators in our region by exchanging invitations and promoting each other national events. At the end each of the coordinators presented her/his short and long term goals they felt were importand for their communities.

Led by Fr. Manfred Desleaers from The Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Auschwitz through the compounds of the concentration camp we commemorated in a meditative and prayerful Way of the Cross the victims of the Nazi genocide.

16/10/2011 was a day largely devoted to Fr. Freeman’s meeting with the Polish Community. The meeting, which attracted over one hundred participants from all over the country, began with a Holy Mass led by Father Jan Pawel Konobrodzki OSB of the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec. During the Mass we witnessed an oblation ceremony of Maria and Albert from Kiev/Ukraine and and Maksymilian from Cieszyn/Poland. Each of them shared her/his journey of faith and told us how they arrived at the decision to adopt the Rule of St. Benedict and the practice of Christian meditation as pillars of their spiritual life.

After the dinner the meeting commenced with Fr. Manfred (a German priest who for the last 20 years has been living in Oswiecim and relentlessly working towards rebuilding the trust, forgiveness and piece among all the peoples, especially those whose loved ones died in the camp) presented the work of the Centre. He said that silence and stillness were the only answers in front of the most painful questions of that place.

Finally Fr. Freeman gave a talk on the need of contemplative dimension in faith in the modern world and the role of meditation in supporting the growth of faith. In the wake of the talk a lively Q&A developed which lasted far into the late afternoon hours. The meeting ended with a 30 minutes meditation. The attached photos attempt to reflect the spirit and atmosphere of these three extraordinary days.