A mission that gives meaning to life

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The Presence of Christ in the Community
Disciple: A mission that gives meaning to life

Lena’s testimony

Hello. My name is Lena Darbinian. I know redemptorists for a very long time, more than 20 years. I’ve cooperated with them for all these years and I’ve helped them with various things. At the beginning, I was helping Fr. Dariusz Paszyński, who was building a church and a parish house here, in Orsk. I was so happy that could work with fathers all that time. They have given me a lot when I was a teenager. Now I can collect the fruit of their raising, the spiritual seed they have sewn and give it to my own children. I have 5 sons, 4 of them are altar boys and they help me a lot in my own service. I still help redemptorists now, in a centre for children who are in difficult life situation.

I will go back a bit to when I was just starting my work in the parish. During that time 3 fathers were working here: ft. Dariusz Paszyński, ft. Paul Jurkowski, ft. John Główczyk. They showed me the whole essence of the Congregation of Redemptorists, for the first time. I got to know all their confreres, the founder of the Congregation, and the history of how the redemptorists crossed the Alps and came here to Russia to carry out their mission.

During all those years I was able to watch them, and I was convinced that the fathers did what saint Alphonsus wanted them to do.

How was I helping fathers? Ft. Paul Jurkowski published a diocesan newspaper “Clement” – I was his secretary. I also helped to organise diocesan courses for catechists and in building the church. I fact, I was trying to help in everything that the fathers were doing. I did every task with deep pleasure. That job, active service, brought me a lot of joy. I was truly surprised to see  the enthusiasm and faith with which the fathers preached the Gospel to the people – they were so selfless! 

Fathers Paul Mroczek and Waldemar Warzyński, came to Orsk recently– they served people with sacrifice bringing them Christ! It is the most important thing in their lives! It’s inspiring, moving and so beneficial!  My heart and soul are just moved by their open hearts that want to bring people to Christ. And I am a part of it. It helps me bring my own family, my children to Christ: I teach them to do the same and I help them discover God.

I am very happy that through all those years, it was exactly those fathers who helped me and now they are forming my children and my family. I am very proud and thankful to all the fathers for what they have given me personally, what they have given to our parish and all the people. Thank you very much!


Bohumír’s testimony

Good morning. My name is Bohumír Živčák I am here in the redemptorist’s church in Podoliniec. Podoliniec is a small, tiny town in the Slovakian mountains. I decided to say this testimony in this church because it’s very important in my story. As a kid I used to pass by this empty church, thinking: “What is this building about”. It was during the communist regime and the church was closed. The monastery was  practically destroyed, damaged, almost a ruin. Later, I learned that, this used to be a concentration camp for different monks and nuns – eight hundred of them. In 1950, they were collected from different monasteries all over former Czechoslovakia, with the aim of destroying the Church. But when I was a kid the monastery was already empty, so wondered whether life would ever come back again. 

When I was 13, a young guy, older than me, called me on my bike in the town and asked me if I would like to join a small group. Everything was done in secret. It was an underground Church at that time, and I didn’t know that the guy was Fr. Michael Zamkowski, redemptorist, secret redemptorist ordained in Poland. So, what we did, in a small group of five, six people, we met every week for many years doing retreats in the forests. We thought our life was going to be like this, fighting with the regime, something like a partisan war. But then, after the revolution in 1989, the situation suddenly changed and redemptorists could come back to the monastery. 

At that time my future wife and I, were thinking about getting married and thinking about what we should do in our life. We felt that God was calling us to get more involved in church life, in the ministry. But there was no way for a lay person to be involved. The redemptorists were also trying to find their way in the new situation because they were living separately and now, they were able to come together in their communities. We decided to try to help; we decided to start by rebuilding the monastery, working manually and slowly trying to continue our work with the youth on the missions. We created a small missionary team around the redemptorists and restarted after many years the parish missions which developed into the ministry that is well known now in the whole country.

Working internationally with different groups we also get involved in the foreign missions, mainly in post-communist countries but also in Asia in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kirgizstan, in Africa, in Western Europe, in USA and Canada.

So, from this very small place, God has used us as missionaries in different parts of the world and the redemptorists are a part of it, because they created it, they created a space, a place, for us. Right now, the community, called the River of Life Community is a community of 56 adults, lay people, who are involved and committed to do missions here in the country and outside the country. So, our life is very much connected with redemptorists on an every- day basis and we practically work together in everything we do. So, it becomes my life, it becomes my joy, my free time, not only for me and my wife, but also for our growing children. – Two of them are already adults, so they are already involved in the community and in missions.

So, it’s my life and this is our experience here in Slovakia with the redemptorists. And We learned that we could do things together and doing things together brings even stronger testimony for the people we serve. 


Antonio’s testimony

Hi everyone! My name is Antonio Yrizar, I’m 34 years old and I belong to the parish of our Lady of Perpetual Help in Madrid. Well, I’ll tell you a little about how my experience with the missionary redemptorists started: it all began in a very natural way, when I was a kid, after my first communion, which I took at school. I started to take part in the different parish groups for each age: groups for children, for teenagers, for confirmation, for youths… I also participated in meetings and retreats and in our yearly Youth Missions in El Espino. I’ve specially been very engaged with our NGO for development Asociación para la Solidaridad, the solidarity branch of the Redemptorist Province of Madrid, in which, apart from going as a missionary volunteer, I’ve been in its Leading Committee as Secretary general. 

So, my relationship with missionary redemptorists has been, as I said, natural. It has gone hand in hand with my personal development and has been very useful in different moments of my life: since I was a kid, where it allowed me to have another group of friends, an atmosphere in which you could talk about other things, and also in my youth, when I started to discover the world through a different perspective and also with the Gospel very present in my life. Now I am in charge of a Young Adults group, called Scalini, formed by young people between the ages of 25-35 who are just starting to work and have to change their commitments because they have less time. We try to find some time to talk about things related to the Gospel and to our faith. 

I would say that the biggest value for me is that the redemptorist charisma has accompanied me during my whole life; it has given me a different vision than the one that society normally gives, and thanks to it, Christian values have been promoted and strengthened in my life, also, if sometimes I have forgotten them, the redemptorist have always reminded me, and when I needed advice or help, I have always found someone who could give it to me. Furthermore, working with Asociación para la Solidaridad for so long, has been very helpful to me; I think it is a fundamental branch of the Redemptorist Province of Madrid. It has allowed me to get to know redemptorists around the world, different forms of understanding the charisma and has given me the opportunity to know how big and varied the redemptorist world is. The redemptorist family, in all its breadth and depth, as I say, not just professed religious men, but also the female religious, the lay communities, groups of social ministry… a lot of people who are around the redemptorists made me have a very interesting vision of the redemptorist charisma in the world. 

So, this is basically my witness. Nowadays, I’m specially working with this group, but I am willing and happy to keep on collaborating with them for the rest of my life, since it has been very interesting and enriching, at least until now. So, I expect that it will continue to be like this. Thank you very much for everything and we will keep in touch. See you!


Authors: Lena Darbinian, Bohumír Živčák, Antonio Yrizar
Translation: Dariusz Dudek CSsR, Carlos A. Diego Gutiérrez CSsR


This post is also available in: polski (Polish) Español (Spanish)