I arrived in Salesian College Farnborough during the latter part of the Summer Break in 2007. My Provincial in Poland, Fr Boleslaw Kazmierczak SDB originally planned for me to spend the third stage of my journey to priesthood, a two-year pastoral/practical training course, in Ireland or Italy, however three months later, in May 2007, there was a change of plan: I was to come to the UK. Obviously I was very anxious and apprehensive about coming to Salesian College, Farnborough, as I would be alone in new territory, with a new language, culture and people; I did not know what to expect, but “The Big Boss” is/was watching over me”. I was the first brother from Poland in many years, and this only heightened my anxiety, as I had nobody to advise or lead me.
My first few weeks at the College were obviously the hardest, however I tried to keep myself busy. I thought that if I had a lot of free time, I would become nostalgic of my time back home, not to mention the pain of missing my family and friends, whom were still in Poland. Although the language barrier etc, were great walls to climb, the thing that helped me through the most, were the boys at the College.
I tried from the beginning to immerse myself into the College, helping at every opportunity. During this time, I was constantly bettering my English. I also attended English lessons with a Year Nine class, listening intently, joining in whenever I could.
I have tried to play an active role in the College, particularly with sport. In Poland I played football and volleyball in a league with other religious teams, such as Franciscans or Jesuits. In Farnborough, I was helping during Games afternoons with each respective year group, in addition to some PE lessons in the morning.
Every break-time and lunch-time I spend in my “office” – on the playground, where I could spend some time talking and playing with the boys. I also supervised the library during my lunch period helping the boys with their homework.
Some people joked that I have not been here working, but merely having fun, nothing more than can be described as a two year holiday! This is hardly surprising, as I have enjoyed some trips in my brief stay at the College; amongst these were the Spanish exchange in October 2007, the New York exchange in October 2008 and HCPT Pilgrimage to Lourdes in Easter 2008 and 2009.
I have also tried to help in the parish. It was a privilege for me to be a part of the RCIA program as well as to be one of the Confirmation and Youth Club catechists. I have been also asked to be the Eucharistic Minister which was a great honor. Inspired by the altar servers in the parish and asked by the school chaplain, I have taken charge of the altar server boys at the College. I have asked some of the boys to help me and eventually I had a group of 12 boys (even some of the Sixth Formers) helping me during our school Masses.
Unfortunately, my time in the UK was only temporary. Although my stay in Farnborough was brief, I have had a great experience, something which I can take with me towards my ordination. Following my experience here in the UK, I will now return to my home country of Poland for two months; the first of them I will spend in Auschwitz in a school for pre-novitiates. This is for young men who want to join the Salesian order, it is a chance for them to get a feel for the lifestyle in which they would be living, and ultimately, if it is a journey in which they would like to embark upon. Following this, I will spend my last month with my family and friends. I will then continue my journey to priesthood in September of this year in Jerusalem, which will be my home for the next four years, studying Theology. At the end of these four years, my nine years journey to priesthood would come to an end.
I would like to say THANK YOU to all who helped me during my stay in Great Britain, especially to Fr Michael Winstanley SDB, who is the Provincial in the UK Province, with his Provincial Council. I would not be able to do anything without my Community here in Farnborough from whom I have received great help and support. I cannot forget about the parish and the College where I spend the most time of my practical training. Everything I have done was only because of them. So thank you very much for everything.
I am leaving the UK Province but a big part of my heart will always be with my Community and friends in the parish as well as “my boys” at Salesian College, Farnborough.
God bless you all!