The affairs of Father Krzysztof. We were in Siberian Bialystok

The affairs of Father Krzysztof. We were in Siberian Bialystok

Father Krzysztof roughly wipes the dashboard of a large pickup truck from the dust as if he wanted to justify himself in this way for not having time to clean it. But Father Krzysztof apparently never has time for little things. Instead, he has plenty of it for anyone in need.

A trip to Siberian Bialystok, where father Krzysztof rebuilds the church burned two years ago, is arranged us by Wasyl Chaniewicz. He is a Pole who at the beginning of the nineties described the tragic history of this village. Siberian Bialystok was founded at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries by emigrants from around Grodno who then were experienced Soviet repression in the thirties. Vasyl is upset - his 89-year-old father Antoni Chaniewicz, the oldest inhabitant of Bialystok, died at night. So there will be no pleasant and sentimental trip to the hometown. He needs to prepare a burial, so he must go to Krivosheino, buy two wreaths at the local funeral parlor, fix a metal tombstone with a border and a screwed Catholic cross, arrange gravediggers. In Bialystok, in a family home, Vasyl must find his father's documents and a photo. The picture will be placed on the gravestone. Time is short, the funeral is tomorrow.

Father Krzysztof likes running, although the first marathon ran only after his fifties. He only stops while talking to others. At that time he is focused and engrossed in. When he ends the conversation with Vasyl, he assures us briefly: 'We will bury Dad'. And he immediately runs to solve another problem. Before we leave Tomsk for good, he arranges money to buy a cow for one of the poorest inhabitants of Bialystok. The animal will improve the existence of the whole family.

We have to overcome two hundred kilometers. The first thing on the tour to do is to pray. We pray the Rosary for the deceased. Only then we can start a talk. Also about our Bialystok where Father Krzysztof was born. His neighborhood  is Dojlidy Górne, the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, where at the end of the eighties a pastoral ministry was performed by late priest Stanisław Suchowolec. Father Krzysztof has been working in Tomsk for four years. Earlier, from 1997 he worked in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, so he was managed to know well the Eastern realities.

The landscape on the route is not surprising. It is almost like in Poland: birches, pines, spruces. In Poland are completly not present only cedars, Siberian chipmunks - striped squirrels, fifty-degree frosts, snow which falls for weeks without a break, and stories about bears - 'satans' which wake up from winter sleep and then they circle around the countryside. Children from Siberian Bialystok pray that they will not come to them, although they know that the only 'earthly' way to save themselves from the attack is an accurate shot from the rifle.

In Krivosheino we do things quickly. The "plant of ritual services" is located between the stone, monumental building of the poviat 'uprawlenija' (administration) and the monument of war victims decorated with a red star. Father Krzysztof talks to a little boy, a son of the plant's owner, who asks about the power of the pickup truck engine and the performance of the car. For a little boy, the speed is important. 150 horsepower don't impress him, just like an admonition against accidents.

We enter city of Bialystok soon. The village is dispersed over several hills, as if crouches inconspicuous. Very modest, colorful houses: green and blue, or unpainted, gray from the sun. On the left on the hill, against the sky the church solid is illuminated with orange afternoon light. 'Atiec Krzysztof !, Atiec Krzysztof!' - three little blondes are calling out individually or together like a choir. They don't understand Polish, but they boast: "We kriestianki!" "I am a Catholic and an Orthodox," says one, proudly showing a cross on her neck.

Today, only the seared, metal cross standing next to the church birch and the outline of the foundations of the old temple testify to the drama that hit the village two years ago. The new one is smaller, but it is! News of the burning of the Białystok St. Anthony's Church were widespread all over Poland. The city of Białystok was firmly engaged in helping to raise money for its reconstruction. The Sibir Memorial Museum also considered it a point of honour to help in this matter. Today we stand in front of the almost finished solid of the new church with a touch of satisfaction that it was also created thanks to the Museum. It still needs to be finished the tower, equip the interior, hang the bell. The consecration of the temple is planned on 12th June next year -  the day when we commemorate  Saint Anthony of Padua. It was managed to collect so much money that it is probably enough to build a small sports pitch!

There is no time to waste. Father Krzysztof puts on old jeans and gets to work. We also roll up our sleeves. We help unload the lorry which came from Tomsk before us: metal scaffoldings will soon encircle the church, and second-hand desks will go to children from Bialystok. In this way we make a small input to the rebuilding of the church. After a while, the priest leaves us and goes to the village to visit the needy people.

It is dark and a Siberian storm begins above Bialystok. Lightnings brighten the sky all the time. Wooden houses seem to be even more fall apart for fear of fire, and we together with them. After an hour, only the puddles remind about the downpour. The stars of the cloudless night sky which reflect in water and the warmth of the evening are the same like in Poland. But this Bialystok is also a piece of Poland ...

During our return, we arrive at the roadside chapel, where we rest for a moment. Father Krzysztof covers his 'cup-a-soup' with boiling water . Before he eats, he gives an interview. During this time, the soup boils, because - as it turns out - you can't eat it right away. After the soup, quick coffee and let's hit the road to Tomsk. Through Siberia, at night, after the storm...

Dr. Tomasz Danilecki

Father Krzysztof Korolczuk, Fot. Iwona Kolasińska/MPS

 

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