Fr. Wladyslaw Mach, an alumnus of our ESL program, is one of five SCJs who are a part of a new project in Berlin, Germany. He and another Pole join two Brazilian SCJs and a German who, as a community, offer a Dehonian presence in an increasingly secularized society. Fr. Wladyslaw’s primary ministry is as a chaplain in the emergency room of a nearby hospital. The following is from a reflection that he recently wrote about the new project:
“How do we reach people?” is the question we ask of ourselves in all the areas where we serve. Young people of today go to the big city to take part in all that it offers. Life moves incredibly quick for them; trends and fashions are just a part of it.
Somehow, we have to find a way to insert ourselves into that life so that we can share the Gospel message. I must be open to new forms of preaching. Nowadays, that includes using all the technical possibilities, such as media.
But we must also must remember – most especially – the effect and role of grace.
I must at the same time be a good “manager” but act as a believer. It is not a way of ministry that necessarily shows its good effects very quickly.
It is challenging, but I believe that we have many opportunities in a big city, in the midst of a very secularized society, to be present. As a congregation we have the task of bringing the message of God’s love to the people, even in such a difficult and opaque environment.
Most young people in this city are moving here because they are looking for something and/or because they desire freedom. Although this “searching” or desire for “freedom” is understood differently than perhaps in a strictly religious context, it is a good precondition.
The Good News was and is for people who are searching. And that gives us hope that our mission here in Berlin has meaning, that it can grow and bear abundant fruit.
Our work in Berlin cannot be summed up so simply in numbers, facts, successes and visible effects. We meet no crowds. But such is the nature and character of preaching. We do not reach out to a group, we reach out to individuals just as God reaches out to each of us.