Beginning of a new training year for Volunteer Labor Corps

Young people attending the Volunteer Labor Corps from all over the country came today to the Marian Sanctuary in Licheń Stary for an annual pilgrimage connected with the beginning of a new training year

The fact that you are here is not a coincidence because your patron, St. John Paul II, when he was in our sanctuary in 1999, said about this place that it was a place that Mary loved very much. And you have discovered it and have been discovering it for many years. We are in a place where for each of you can be an opportunity to strengthen yourself at the beginning of the path ahead of you - the path of improvement, education, upbringing, gaining knowledge, but also developing yourself. Because what matters most is the beauty of the heart, the quality of our lives, our relationship with God and other people

Solemn Mass. Bishop Zdzisław Fortuniak, senior bishop of the Archdiocese of Poznań presided in front of the Miraculous Picture of Our Lady of Licheń. Among the invited guests there were, among others representatives of the government of the Republic of Poland, headed by Mr. Stanisław Szwed, secretary of state in the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy, local government in the person of Mr. Sławomir Lorek, deputy mayor of Konin, the national authorities of the VLC represented by Mrs. Renata Wicha, deputy chief commandant and the clergy in the person of Rev. . Msgr. Jarosław Sroka, the national chaplain of the VLC.

Addressing young people, Minister Stanisław Szwed said: -BI am very glad that this beautiful tradition is continued and that we can meet together and entrust our activities and our lives to Our Lady of Licheń. The minister also expressed his gratitude to the teaching staff for the effort put in the process of educating young people.

During the ceremony, medals were awarded for many years of work for the VLC. The OHP gold medals were awarded to: Mr. Jerzy Saganowski (Kujawsko-Pomorska OHP) and Mrs. Krystyna Skoczylas (Centrum Kształcenia i Wychowania, Pleszew). Medals of the National Education Commission were awarded to: Mr. Bogusław Adrjański (Radom), Anna Mazurek (Koło), August Mroziewicz (OHP headquarters in Podlasie) and Barbara Nowak (OHP headquarters in Łódź).

Students who distinguished themselves in the past training year with special results in learning and professional preparation as well as in other areas of social and professional activity were also awarded. The winners of the nationwide competition "Graduate of the VLC year" were: Nikola Szczepaniak from Czarnków won the junior high school category, while Agnieszka Mamala from Nowy Sącz achieved the best result in the practical vocational training category.

After the ceremony at the new bell tower, the invited guests, teachers and students went to the Lichen basilica to pray and recommend their intentions to Our Lady of Lichen during the midday Mass. Before that happened, however, the delegation of students went to the monument to St. John Paul II, in order to pay tribute to the patron of the Voluntary Labor Corps by laying flowers.

Holy Mass Bishop Zdzisław Fortuniak, senior bishop of the Archdiocese of Poznań presided in front of the Miraculous Picture of Our Lady of Licheń. The priests of the provincial OHP headquarters headed by Fr. Jarosław Sroka, the national chaplain of the VLC.

Referring to today's Gospel according to St. Łukasza, Bishop Fortuniak emphasized that man, with all his desires and problems, is not left to himself. God is with him and above him, in whose image and likeness man is made.

The hierarch also spoke of the vocation of man to love: - Since God, who is over man, in whose image and likeness man was called to life, is Love, it means that man exists out of love and was created for love.

Continuing his deliberations, the bishop of Poznań said: - Man surpasses everything that can be created in the world, except God. Therefore, man cannot allow himself to be degraded to the state of a highly developed animal. Our presence on earth has a meaning and purpose well beyond the material horizon. We will not fall into the dust of nothingness. We have a chance to enter the mystery of God's eternity. No creature is said to be the temple of God. It is the human spirit, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, that should guide man's life. Our life should therefore take place according to the requirements of the spirit, not just the body.

During the Holy Mass the first graders took a solemn oath. In turn, Ms Renata Wicha, the deputy commander of the OHP, read the act of entrusting the Volunteer Labor Corps to Our Lady of Licheń on behalf of the charges.

The Licheń ceremonies were attended by representatives of OHP headquarters from the following voivodeships: Wielkopolskie, Zachodniopomorskie, Opolskie, Lubelskie, Małopolskie, Łódzkie, Lubuskie, Podlaskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Warmińsko-Mazurskie, Śląskie, Dolnośląskie, Pomorskie, Świętokrzyskie and Podkarpackie.

The musical setting for the ceremony was provided by the Representative Orchestra of the Air Force in Poznań under the direction of senior member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Konrad Botycki.

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