Interview with Fr. Janusz Kumala, MIC, the new custodian of the Lichen sanctuary

ks. Janusz Kumala MIC
Fr. Janusz Kumala, MIC, custodian of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Licheń

For two months, Father Custos has been the host of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Licheń. Did something surprise you about this ministry?

- First of all, what is surprising when one includes this type of function, i.e. responsibility for a certain work, institutions, and above all a place that we call a saint, is an extraordinary action of God. It is visible every day, but especially when one takes responsibility for such a place - eyesight, hearing sharpen - one sees more, hears and experiences God's action. What I observe is a great need to meet God, but also to meet myself in the depths of my heart, to organize my life, to stop and think what we are living for. What is this anxiety, worry, suffering and toil for? These are the basic questions that modern man needs answers to if he stops and has a moment to reflect. Otherwise, he runs blind and at some point realizes that everything he's doing is pointless. Places such as a Marian shrine are conducive to reflection on your life. What is constantly surprising in Licheń - such people come here, there are more and more of them.


The custodian is one of the most important functions, both in Licheń and in the entire Marian Congregation. How did you accept the nomination? On the one hand, it is trust, on the other hand, it is responsibility.

- I accepted it with fear and joy. With fear, because when a new task or challenge is undertaken, a natural fear arises as to whether a person will be able to cope with or manage to meet the requirements that are associated with running a sanctuary. On the other hand, with joy because it is my vocation and my mission as a priest and Marian, whose task is to spread the cult of Our Lady Immaculate. I can do all this in the sanctuary and through the Marian sanctuary. Although this is a great and demanding task, not only physical, but above all spiritual, there is joy and peace in me that I am not alone - there is a community of Marian priests and brothers in the sanctuary, as well as a large group of lay people and a huge army devotees of Our Lady of Licheń, who are connected with the sanctuary by prayer. This is God's action, I would like to enter into it as best as possible.

The priest's first decision was to launch an online broadcast from inside the basilica so that people who are unable to come to Licheń could participate in the services. How do you evaluate this step?

- The decision to launch the live broadcast is symbolic and significant. The idea is to open the sanctuary even more and bring it closer to people. This is the task of not only the live broadcast, but also of the functioning of the sanctuary in general. It seems that this decision was the most appropriate, especially today, in the era of social media, when many people follow events through the media. The transmission from inside the basilica is very helpful, these are the signals we receive. It is helpful not only to the sick or those who cannot come to Licheń, but also to all those who want to participate more often in the life of the sanctuary, and with the image and sound in front of them, they do it in a more engaged way. Both the live broadcast and the presence of the sanctuary on various social media are a response to the signs of the modern world, which is becoming more and more virtual. It is important to build reality through this virtuality - to try to connect people through the media, building a community of spirit.

What other initiatives have been implemented or are being implemented since you became the custodian?

- We are continuing this program in the sanctuary, trying to enrich it with new elements. We take into account various circumstances, events and anniversaries that are present in the life of the Church or the world. We remember about the needs of modern man - peace, strength and strengthening in times of suffering - for example, we remembered on October 15 about families, parents of lost children. We try to be closer to people and respond to their needs.

On the one hand, it is said that fewer and fewer believers participate in the active life of the Church. On the other hand, when arriving at the Licheń sanctuary, it can be noticed that on Saturday and Sunday Masses thousands of people are attending. How will the curator explain it?

- This is the secret of the place, the secret of the sanctuary. When we look at the map of the Church, we see that all sanctuaries are alive. Crowds go to such places to experience the closeness of God. To participate in the life of the Church is to experience the closeness of God. It may be that someone in everyday life, in the routine of their religious life, does not experience it in their parish church, and therefore looks for a different place. It's normal, human, we need incentives that can help us open ourselves to God. Sanctuaries are also somewhat anonymous places, where a person can be alone with God, even though he is in a community, among many people. This is conducive to quieting down and opening up, looking for and finding answers to questions that bother you. This task is also being fulfilled in the Licheń Shrine. We are indeed seeing an increase in the number of pilgrims, especially on weekends when people are looking for a respite. Pilgrims come from nearby large cities, such as Poznań, Łódź, and Warsaw, looking for strengthening, inner peace or ordering their lives, for example through the sacrament of penance. It is optimistic, indicating the need for the presence of sanctuaries in the Church today.

Thank you for the conversation.

- Thank you, greetings and welcome to our Lichen sanctuary.

Interviewed by: Robert Adamczyk, Press Office of the Marian Shrine in Licheń

Lichen Stary, October 25, 2018

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