SMILING DON FRANCO
Abp Kondrusiewicz from Moscow during his visit in Italy 1992 was staying short time in Bergamo diocese. During the meeting with local priests he asked unexpected question in his very spontaneous way: who of Bergamo priests will agree to take care about Catholic Parish in Rostov on Don and the priest working there?
It happen some strange silence even jokes in the middle of priests, somebody called the name of Don Franco, known as very serious, perhaps too serious Don Franco, target of many jokes.
It was unexpected to him he was a priest of perhaps one of smallest parishes in Alps, but he did not protest, he agree and after thinking and praying, he started doing things very serious way. It was his own, personal way.
1. Communione Liberazione
As brench of Communione Liberazione movement, we have close to Bergamo library and Publishing Center "Russia Christiana", under fr. Romano Scalfi, birytualist priest.
Fr. Romano was graduated in "Russicum", it is why he is peaking fluent Russian. All his heart and life he has given to popularize mentality and tradition of Russian East in Italy.
He offered his knowledge to help in restoring structures of Russian Catholic Church. He prepared and printed some experimental versions of Roman Missal in Russian; he helped also printing and popularizing big Roman Catechism. He organized as part of charitable activities of Caritas so called Spiritual Library, which gave start to many Christians Libraries in deep Russia.
The most active person in Moscow library was Giovanna Paravicini, sister in Memores Domini Institute (another brench in CL). She organized my first meetings with don Franco.
2. Meeting in Moscow
My adventure with Italians and Spanish people, started in the same point and same moment in Moscow. Abp Kondrusiewicz was forcing me to visit Giovanna, so I came in February 1993 to Russia Christiana office in Moscow. I was traveling with Nicolas my young organist and Ernesto from Mozambique. During our travel we made in hurry the story about our parish to be translated and given to don Franco in Entratico.
After getting the message, Don Franco decided to visit me in autumn 1993. Unexpectedly he changed his plans and came together with couple of lay people in May month.
3. The visit in May
Fragile, but dynamite blond lady, her phlegmatic husband with short beard Guido, businessmen from Entratico and high, handsome, white hairs "old Rome citizen" don Franco, they came with the night flight from Moscow on Rostov airport. Giovanna was as their translator.
It was Saturday and in the morning we were traveling together to Rostov Puppet Theatre, to pray Sunday Mass. I had none plan for that day, as usually I was confessing people in the angle of the theatre. I was very surprised when I realized that people is coming to microphone and talking about their experience of getting faith and looking for local community. Giovanna was translating and Italian priest was very happy.
In Bataysk there were no guest room so priest was sleeping in the chapel, first time in his life so close to Tabernacle. There was no phone, no current water, no canalization system, toilets were in the garden.
Don Franco was asking everything: what kind of books we read and papers, do we have spiritual literature, and have we contacts with diocese and other priests. Do our relatives and superiors visit us?
I had no idea what kind of gift will he like, I saw he liked y first ornate from Poland...so I packed and put in his bag in secret. Next night he spent in the Hotel so he cried like baby looking on that kind of surprise. Perhaps it was too many adventures for one single week.
It was well educated and hard trained in life man. He was the oldest in 6 children family. After his fathers death (sometime I wonder if it happened on the war) he became responsible for his younger brothers and sisters, working as a book keeper.
He entered Seminary only as 33 years old man. He was studying just in times of Vatican II and was very well informed about all the reforms church made these days. He really saw much, but seeing Russia he was really touched.
We were not having any car in the parish so to get Rostov and back he was able to look on very old and dirty Russian cars without any seat free. Each Sunday people are hurry on the market so bus was full of very different kind of people. Bus was shaking on every whole on the road and priest was not young...
They were returning in Tuesday morning so Monday we spent visiting interesting places in the city. I was trying to show him Orthodox Cathedral. Cossack security feared very stupid words our sisters forbidding them to enter in the church. The reason was because one of them was dressed in white color habit so he was thinking she may be sectarian from famous "white Brotherhood" Ukrainian sect, popular also in Rostov. Sisters were trying to explain that we are Catholics so he became more aggressive, hearing word Catholic. Don Franco had visual lesson how Orthodox may behave in relationship to other religions. Our parishioner Irina has gone alone to Orthodox Curia trying to explain situation. Some priest came and apologized, perhaps in respect to Italians, but the feeling of sadness our guests got for ever. We were telling him all our adventures with Cossacks before, so he knew more less the topic.
Few months later he got seriously sick, he had cancer and small surgery in stomach. Never mind he made big report to his bishop and informed all priests in his deanery that he wishes to continue action of human and material assistance together with all of them. When everything was prepared he invited me to come to Italy revisiting him.
4. Copy machine from Rossosh.
Asking questions about pastoral, Don Franco wished to be sure what kind of gifts he may do to satisfy my urgent needs. I was telling him about our self made song-books and many other texts have to be printed. He agree me that it is important activity and send urgently using his friendly channel in Voronezh Land. He was giving me instructions how to use such machine, but I was sure he is talking about Xerox, so there was no need to explain, I knew. In fact it was something different. They send me so called "cicrostyle", modern version of same machines as we were using in Solidarnosc, when I was teenager, in Wloclawek Lyceum.
I was happy very much. I made big trip to 500km in the north city Rossosh but it was good to be there and to visit first Italian soldiers in their peaceful mission, building orphanage. Don Franco was kind of chaplain and friend of Alps Troupes of Italian Army; they were sending me in the future much more help.
5. Transport of medicines
Transport with copy machine was small, so we were able to tke it in two persons: me and traditionally young organist Nicolas. Next transportation happened in autumns in Sunday, so I have to stay in place praying Sunday Mass. I asked sister and some parishioners to go and take it in my behalf. I never expected that it may be so many things. In fact it was enough for big Van. They had none money to loan any car so with a help of "Alpines Soldiers" they put all these gifts on regular train going from Moscow to Rostov.
Visiting later in Italy I was told that "Alpines" were touched how nice and humble was my delegation. They took all the gifts. We spent about one year trying to do classification all of them and give to specific hospitals in the neighbor. These days it was big problem for everybody, the state was producing small number of medicines and all of them were disappearing on black market. To buy them it took much money.
One Catholic French speaking student from Togo was sitting about 2 months reading instructions and giving short Russian descriptions what for concrete medicine may be used.
Each Sunday I was taking big bag in my own hands transporting by bus to my new outstations in Taganrog and Novocherkassk. People were really very happy and thankfull.
6. Unexpected invitation
Fr. Franco never mentioned that he wishes invite me to Italy, so when invitation came, I was very surprised. They were inviting me and sister superior from Bataysk. Archbishop in Moscow was also informed. He knew our superior very well because they were working together in Lithuania before. These days he was simple vicar priest and perhaps he had some kind of misunderstandings with Sister Teresa, because he did not like her ever. He proposed to change invitation. There was in Bataysk monastery some very talkative sister which was sent on daily studies in Rostov University. She was very helpful attracting our Africans to visit church. Bishop was expecting she may be more successful, than superior Teresa. Italians make new invitation and we have gone, just a year later than first visit of Don Franco in Russia.
7. Collecting money
As I told before, sick and old Don Franco was doing his best to engage all his fellow priest in his deanery in helping Russia. Hid plan was that both sister and I have to visit one of local communities talking about our missionary activities and asking support.
We were living in fr. Romano Scalfi Publishing House "Russia Christiana", most of workers in the house were Russian speaking people graduate from Milan University, where Russian Philology was. It was very convenient. Some of them was serving us daily as driver and as translator same time.
I was asking sister to talk ever after my talk. Collection of money was just after talking. It was ever during the mass so I was going with ordinary box walking in the middle of benches like priests do in Poland and sister was following me giving to people small memorial pictures which I was stamping 3 years ago as occasion to my first Mass initiating my priesthood. Now it was 3-rd anniversary of my priesthood and good excuse to use these pictures again. The main reason of doing so was also to educate local people to be sensitive on such a new mission as Russia.
We got during a week about 4000 US dollars and Don Franco was sure that in the future people and priests will be more generous. In fact I came only 3 years later, not collecting donations but visiting his tomb.
Except hard work in dailly preaching we were relaxing also. Don Franco personally was caring about that. He took us to three big cities in the neighbor: Milan, Brescia and Venice.
In Milan we were visiting huge Carlo Borromeo Cathedral on the main square and somewhere in the middle of the city graves of so famous here st. Ambrose. Together with him were laying relics of Gervaze and Protaze.
We were in Dominicans church where local people venerate Holly Mary of all the Graces. She was defending on the icon hundreds of small human beings under her big coat. Nice picture, but close to monastery was most famous fresco of Leonardo Da Vinci: "Last Supper". It was impossible to imagine all the beauty, because fresco was still in restoration. I was told all these expensive works were paid by Japanese sponsors.
In Bergamo we were visiting local Seminary under the name of John XXIII. Seminary was situated on big hill. I asked Don Franco if possible to see local Bishop and have short interview, he just smiled. He took us to nice local Cathedral and shows me some graves." These are local bishops, with whom you wish to have interview?" he asked.
I understood he wish not loosing time on such official meetings or perhaps he does not like actual bishop, we were never talking about that, I got opportunity to know that so serious Don Franco, has sense of humor and like joking also.
In Brescia on he took us to "Alpines Center" and introduced to some important personalities, organizers of orphanage in Voronezh. He was sure "Alpines" may do similar activities in Rostov on Don. It just need time and diplomacy, he told.
Same city was organization Lux de Oriente, supporting fr. Bogdan in Sochi but also time to time giving us some material help. I remember once such transportation was given to Kalmyk Republic.
Brescia is also native land of Pope Paul VI In his native settlement there is small church with very special Cross Way. In the pictures are represented faces of all the citizens of small town. There is also bronze statue of the Pope. Don Franco took big Cross from Popes hands and gave me. That moment sister took nice photo in which Don Franco has beatifull smile. In his parish that photo made sensation because according some rumors he never smiled publicly. It is very strange for so much smiling nation as Italian is, but Don Franco was, such a serious, never smiling personality.
He made us also excursion to Venice. During visiting churches it was very funny to see him ever paying tickets. Local workers were passing me for free as a priest (I was ever in sutana), but he was paying himself, because roman color on his white dressing was invisible.
He took us by boat to St. George Island, close to st. Lasar. St. Lazar is Armenian monastery and Seminary for Mechitarian Congregation from all over the world. There were also students from Armenia and we were talking to one of them.
We were not traveling gondolas, but even so the day was full of adventures.
Don Franco was glad from himself and I was proud of him.
9. Russian Bible
In 1995 I was on vacasions in Fatima. Later I was supposed to spend a year in Franciscan novitiate in Poland near Warsaw. I send a postcard to Don Franco from Fatima and few months later I got from him also a photo. He was sitting on invalids' vehicle, very sick taking in his hands big Russian Bible, which he offered to me by Giovanna. I took these gifts in Moscow. Dedication was difficult to read because his hand was partially paralyzed by sickness.
He was only 60, so it was too soon to die. I was trying to read his words to me, but tears were disturbing me. I really loved that man, not because his generosity, but first of all because of his character.
He treated me as a father in priesthood. Like a man who is feeling responsibility not only for specific Rostov mission, but also for that specific young priest and his vocation.
Don Franco died in October 1995, just these days when I started my painful experience as Franciscan novice.
10. Second travel-Rimmini
My second travel to Italy in 1997 I was planning after being encouraged by Giovanna. She informed me that the youngest brother of Don Franco, after reading his brother testament wishes obligatory contact me, but he is too much busy to come to Russia, so he ask me to visit him.
I was also busy man these days. I gave my Kalmyk Parishes to Franciscans, but I opened new ones in Azov, Leningradskaya and Volgodonsk. It need time to establish and not to loose single Sunday in meeting people and give them spiritual food, which ever for new converted people looks very attractive. I was ever feeling this and doing my best to satisfy such a people.
I was keeping ever same style doing efforts to have "Sunday Mass in every outstation if possible even that Sunday Mass have to happen in Friday, Saturday or even in Monday. Such was situation that distances between my outstations were from 30 up to 330 km, so round trip to Volgodonsk and back each Saturday was 660 km here and back home.
Never mind I was planning to go. It was May month. That time I was traveling together with second Salezian priest which came to Russia after 13 years working in Zaire.
His name was Jerzy Krolak SDB. He was small size man but big experience missionary. He became our dean in Rostov deanery...in the future and he was actual director of Caritas, which just established and had no finances and no sponsors to make any charitable project.
Brother Emilio Benedetti SJ agrees to go with us as manager and translator.
These days there was very convenient flight connection between Rostov and small harbor on Adriatic see Rimmini.
We used such opportunity to have cheep and direct flight and just after 3 hours flying in Russian aircraft full of local businessmen we were in Italy.
Brother Emilio met us in airport. He find for us place in diocesan house, but all the priesthood we met there were not interested in having any talks with us. Also local Bishop had no time to have interview. We were talking with his General Vicar and the result was that local Caritas paid our trip to Napoli by night train.
Before going there we met Don Oreste, very famous local priest which organized movement under the name of Pope John XXII. His movement was founded to take care about draggers and street girls. He was very generous for all of them especially when he realized that they were forced to be prostitutes against their will. He was looking for them some logging and job, if they were foreigners he was helping to contact their embassies to make new documents and help return home.
His movement had one point for drudgers in Volgograd and I wished ask him to open similar place in Azov.
Oreste invited us to pray Mass together. During the Mass in very special church which was looking more than sportive hall than a church he made all believers laugh when just during consecration he got mobile call and was looking his mobile phone somewhere hidden behind Alba and sutana very deep. He finally fined it and said: "Please call later, because I have very important meeting now"...
Later we gave us small money and advised to visit small country in the neighbor San Marino. According him there was some Polish priest which obligatory will be happy seeing us...
11. San Marino
San Marino small independent country formed from two small towns on two mountains, all the population around 40.000citizens. They were having own money, police, border workers and 2 equal power presidents. We had no invitations, no visa but nobody was asking for. At first we were visiting Salezians parish. Fr. Krolak talked friendly to his congregation members about his Caritas ambitions and got some advices. Visiting Polish priest was total mistake. He had visitors from Poland; perhaps his sister with children came from Poland and had no time for us. I do not remember if he was showing us his church or not, even do not remember if he apologized, or we were apologizing for unexpected visit. It was real sad moment. Many times in my life I was in position of poor man even begger visiting big brothers looking on me with suspicious eyes...priests from poor Russia, are not very welcomed people in some places. I can understand feelings of these Polish priests which choose working "on missions", in rich Europe.
Napoli and Livorno I wished to visit because of Taganrog. In the past some 5 cities in Italy were having permanent business relationship with Taganrog and they were natural sponsors of our church. My small hope was to attract back people in these places to have some partnership at church level and some day help in returning and restoring 200 years old building.
Actually there is still library, but I was ever hoping it may happen some day miracle and local authorities may give us the church back, such was Russian law, but nobody was living according a law these days in Russia. One of bureaucrats in Taganrog said to me:" Eltsine made a law about giving back churches, OK, he is in Moscow, we are in Taganrog, we have no will to obey him".
Brother Emilio took us to Jesuit monastery and we spent the night there. In the morning we had audience with local Cardinal, but he was not serious with us at all he was very talkative, audience was perhaps 40 minutes but the only result was that he advised us to go to Rome and in Caritas Center near San Paolo Basilica have talks withy important people, he promised us to call to Rome and to help us.
About visiting local wonderful places there was no way to talk. Brother Emilio was canceling any opportunity to do this, he had just few days for us and a wish to have the more meetings with important people possible. He was really in favor about having successful Caritas point in Rostov.
We were not planning to be in Rome, but because Cardinal insisted Emilio agree him and I was happy, because it was my first opportunity to be there.
Emilio was skeptic concerning Cardinals intentions and in fact nobody was calling to Caritas with informing about our possible visit and needs. Never mind we find some important people and got some information how to organize the best way possible our charitable organization on Don and what kind of projects may be approved at high level.
We had half a day free and fr. Jerzy decided to go to his monastery to spend night, Emilio to Jesuits, I was advised to visit some sisters. I was looking for Mercifull Jesus sisters, but by mistake Emilio called to passionist sisters ansd they surprisingly agree to have me in their house in the night.
It was Wenday and it was still early so Emilio proposed mi to go in St. Peters to see the Pope on public audience. Metro was fast, distance was small, but audience that day was surprisingly short, so we met just people returning from audience.
I was sad and even looking Vatican treasures I was still unsatisfied. Bit of peace I got at Peters grave. I had with me all the documents about registering my new parishes. I took them just for such purpose: to show very important people in Italy asking support. It was the most important person in Rome I can immagine. I was remembering Don Franco proposing me to have audience with Bergamo Bishops...John Paul II was unable to meet me, but st. Peter was silently glas with my comming, I was feeling it. Even returning I was totally different humor than comming here. Some small baby came to me asking something. I did not understand him but I said si to him and he returned happy to his papa. Emilio told me later that the boy was asking me if I am the pope. I was the only man dressed in sutanna so small baby was thinking naivelly that I may be Holly Father... Such a very short Conclave. I was smiling long time from myself, such a story!
Next day in the morning we were in Livorno. We were visiting Bishop Office. The bishop was young Salezian, so the visit was more-less good, but he again advised us to go in local Caritas office. Same time I met in the garden very busy priest from island Elba. I met him in Fatima and he was very friendly these days, but in Livorno he was sad. Perhaps talking to him by phone Emilio does some mistake, but our meeting was full sadness. He gave me some money to pray intentions and excused that he is very hurry to his parish.
In Fatima we were talking much about bad behaviors of Polish priests in Italy. Now he perhaps started thinking about me as same hungry man looking only for money as the first topic in my life.
I has nothing to my defense, in fact these days I had many pastoral and charitable projects in my brain so having money was important and most of our talks had such a busy style. Emilio was not heading the reason of our visits. Perhaps he was not diplomatic enough using his knowledge of languages. My Italian and fr. Jerzy was not good enough to talking ourselves.
Caritas Livorno was the most interested in collaborating with us organization we met on our trip. They were sending much human aid to Yugoslavia, they were experienced doing this and promised to send us same kind of help.
After these successful talks we have the only thing to do to meet don Franco's brother.
Before going to Bergamo we made a visit in Benedictine shrine in mountain near Livorno. It was the patron day, so there were many people. Local Madonna is called "Black Lady" same as in Czestokhova.
I was praying Holly Mary she help us in the future and perhaps she was hearing my prayer.
15. Santa Barbara
Don Mario was the youngest brother of Don Franco, perhaps 20 years younger. It means he was more less same age with fr. Jerzy and just a bit older than me. He showed us all his parish and activities. In his parish house were computer and internet. These days I was not familiar with such High-Tec...
His church was perhaps one thousand years old and all the walls were broken, because of some tectonic problems, all foundations have to be repaired, huge expense of money and time. He got some big subsidy from the state and he was telling us that before finishing that job bishop will not permit him to go on missions even he wishes deeply to do so.
He was looking really tired but happy having some relax with us. His eyes were telling me that hard job is not the only problem of him. Fr. Jerzy told me later that in few years I will understand him, because it is the main and common problem of all the men in their 40-ties.
Mario had parish in deep mount region which have Ambrosian traditions like Milan diocese. We were praying few times in Ambrosian rite, but it was so close to Roman rite so I really do not realize the difference except the symbol of peace which people give each other in the beginning of the Mass.
Mario took us to some coffee, there was same time the meeting of Alpines so the place was full of people. I was fasting these days with intention to have successful trip, so the only thing I was asking to eat were ice creams. Mario took for me the big one kg ice-cream and observed if I can eat him. Funny play but I does it.
Mario was really like brother to us but we spent together only one single day.
In the morning next day his driver bring me envelope with 5000 dollars. It was perhaps Don Franco testament to do so and he does. Amazing was that he wished to meet me before and to know me better. Meeting him we were free from Emilio activities. His plan was to bring us to Bergamo and come back to Bruxelles to his Foyer Europeen.
16. Torrino Seminary
Fr. Jerzy took me from Bergamo just for one day visit in his founder shrine in Torrino. Torrino is famous because of Jesus Christ syndome, but I saw only a copy in Salezian Basilica. I saw also relics of Don Bosco. I has same sad impressions like in Vatican. I was feeling that the place looks abandoned and there is no life which we may expect in the capital of youth.
The warmth of Don Bosco personality I was feeling only in old buildings, the very first chapel...I stayed there in praying up to the deep night and even somebody closed me inside. I start yelling and some monsignor came and opened me.
Next day in the morning fr. Jerzy took me to Salezian Seminary in the opposite side of the city. He knew some people there so we have gone. For me much more interesting was that same street is Family House of Pier Giorgio Frasatti, the holly boy whose biography was my first Italian book given in the day when I entered seminary in Bialystok. I liked very much the book and the boy...son of La Stampa, communist paper owners. Father was rich but supported communists, his mother was very Catholic, so he followed her example being good spirit in the middle of local student society in Italian twenties last century. He was praying daily Rosary and asking others to do the same. For meditating rosary he was traveling in Alps and taking friends together.
Giorgio died as 25 years old boy hiding until the last moment his deep sufferings. He was my silent patron in my staying in Torrino even I had no opportunity to visit his house.
In fact we met another holly boy without realizing. One of Polish seminarians, native from Slupsk (Stolpen) in Pomerania next year has gone to Africa and died as martyr. I was meeting him without expecting the meeting may the first and the last. All of them were asking much about missions, we spent time together in eating room eating lunch. There were 5 polish seminarians so I even do not realize who of them exactly that one was. We met also famous polish Bible teacher fr. Stus. Fr. Jerzy was very happy being there. He told me it was important for his monastic vocation.
In fact in Russia in the middle of so many difficulties you are very easy to loose your Christian even human qualities, because all the people around is living according such unchristian and inhuman rules that you may seem funny with you faith and principles for the rest of society even for own parishioners.
By visiting Don Franco grave I got also bit of peace in my soul. I remembered his worries about my vocation and priesthood qualities.
17. Winter meeting
Without any expectation Don Mario made me surprise. He find few days and came in the deep winter time, when restoration of his church was stopped for the reason of cold. He was really joyful man for my parishioner warm personality twice more, because more simple than his brother. He stayed with me in Azov, visited also Volgodonsk and Leningradskaya. He was seeing India 7 times so he was accustomed to see difficult and poor places. Now he got to experiment about local missions. Life was still same hardships in new parishes like 5 years before when his brother came.
In fact both of them got same fear of Russia. Don Mario never came back again. I was told few years ago he finally got permission to go on missions and was preparing himself in some kind of missionary center in Rome.
18. Last trip
In autumn 1998 I have gone in the last trip before going on Siberia. Fr. Mackiewicz was driving his new but defected car. First reparation was in Poland, next in Entratico, Italy. Ines Pasta, big friend of Don Franco and parish leader asked her brother to repair the car.
Fr. Mackiewicz wished to visit his Salezian superiors in Rome so we have gone by train there. Our host was his classmate missionary priest which just came back from Brasil and had much time for us. He showed us some seminary near Nurse native places of st. Benedict. Salezian priest was one of teachers there.
My main topic was this time Venice, because of efforts to make partnership between Azov and Venice. Azov-Tana was in the Middle Ages Venetian colony. Same as in Livorno had connections with Taganrog. My hope to be successful was small, but I do the last effort having written blessing from my Saratov diocese bishop.
Fr. Mackiewicz stayed in Rome and I gone to Venezia. We promissed each other to meet in Seriate in Russia Christiana Publishing House. I spent just one day visiting Franciscans, Dominicans and Capuchin Fathers with my letter from Bishop.
Reaction was small, but in the last point, when I asked Capuchin Fathers to have a Mass on altar of famous Holly Mary from River Don memory from war times. There happened something difficult to describe. I was praying Russian so some ladies were curious and came closer. When I was finishing there was huge number of ladies crying.
I explained them short words that I came from these places where the icon was originally being and I told them about Rossosh near Voronezh, where many graves of Italian soldiers still exist.
I was not asking donations but these ladies looking on me understood that I may be in need. They offered me much money and I returned to Seriate happy.
Fr. Edward returned happy also because he got material support for his church in Rostov from General house in Rome. His car was ready and Ines Pasta told us, it was expensive reparation, but they wish us nothing to pay, they wish us happy travel.
To have happy travel we were visiting st. Anthony's shrine in Padua. I came close to his tomb asking his blessing in my missionary dreams about Siberia. I was hearing his voice in my heart, or just in imagination, telling me: "Go and try to do everything well". I have gone. It was the last accent of my friendship with Lombardia people.
19. Tor Vergata
Last visit in Italy was in August 2000, with group of youngsters from Siberia 46 people from all Irkutsk diocese, 8-10 people from each of 5 deaneries. Participants were unprepared and many of them had no idea what for they go. Lack of discipline was the main problem. Seeing far away European country the first time in their lives made crazy many of participants in my group, also Italians was not perfect organizers. The first night we were sleeping just on the floor in some unprepared place, the new one was a bitter better, but until the end was not sure where our group have really to stay.
After returning to Moscow I was interviewed in Catholic paper and I told sincerely that half on my group in the last day was absent in Tor Vergata on Main meeting with Pope, because they preferred to be...on the beach in Fiumicino, close to airport, except walking with all baggage to 10km far away Tor Vergata and similar distance to metro station after all the night prayer in the open air.
20. Deja vu... Sachalin
In Sakhalin I was full time busy in constructing new church, but from Russia Christiana in Moscow office I got message that people in Entratico is worry about me. I told Giovanna that I am going well. I asked her only help to train my lay catechist people and to give me some books for education of leaders but also simple parishioners. These days I was buying bible from Protestants such was big lack of urgent necessary Christian books.
At first she told me it may be difficult but finally she took four or even five people and they were staying perhaps half a week giving very useful advices and talks to my leaders.
It was the last meeting with her... all 10 years of my staying in Russia she as a member of Russia Christiana does the best that I may feel well in Russia this still wild and unfriendly to Catholics country.
I wish to tell again that Giovanna was initiator of relationship with Spanish volunteers.
My adventure with Entratico, don Franco, and Russia Christiana has own starting point but still has no end. I tried to inform Russia Christiana about my actual life in Ukraine, but my messengers were unsuccessful.
Once it was some old Alpines, visiting in Enakevo. The old participant of II world War, another was Franco Vecchi rich young businessman Francesco Vecchi from Brescia, willing getting marry with a girl from Makeevka. He even gave big donation for my chapel...but disappeared. I feel all my Italian friends will find me back. Even Don Franco, I feel him very close to me and his smiling face somewhere from heaven is sending me blessings and prayers...
Fr. Jaroslaw Wisniewski
Beijing, October 26, 2006