Summertrip 2023 – Summary

Fides et Cultura 2020 Summer trip 2023: The Depths of Life

Once again we followed the footsteps of our main patron Saint John Paul II – in terms of our topic as well as in our location and activities. The red thread was his drama The Jeweler’s Shop which Karol Wojtyla had written before his main theological writings. In the same time he used to go kayaking with groups of young people, particularly in the Suwałki region. In order to represent different experiences about the drama’s topic – love and marriage – the group consisted not only of priests and young people, but also of families, an engaged couple and a widower. Once again, the trip was international – the participants came from Poland, Germany, England, Spain, Ukraine, India and Australia. Many group members already knew each other from former trips, others were completely new to the project.

It started in the beautiful former monastery of Wigry which was a perfect location for the first days of our trip: The church is still in use, therefore we could have our daily masses there. The guest rooms gave us an opportunity to sense the monastic spirit. There was also a conference room and on a meadow behind the monastery with a little tavern where we sang, played instruments and talked together.

The mass on Wednesday, 16th August, was followed by a first meeting to get to know each other. The rest of the day was mainly filled by a bicycle trip through the Wigry national park. Some of us had to learn that the official cycling route is not always the fastest one and that taking paved streets sometimes can guide you to your destination a little bit faster, but in the end, everyone arrived back at the monastery. There were even more opportunities to get to know each other during the first barbecue in the evening, so the group already became integrated quite well on the first day.

The next day started with a philosophical session during which some major ideas of Wojtyła’s writing Love and Responsibility were introduced and links to The Jeweler’s Shop were found. A boat trip on the Wigry lake enabled space for further discussions on the topic. In the afternoon we took part in a wedding mass. This did not only fit our topic but also the international spirit of the trip as it was a Polish-French mass. Musicians from our group provided music for the wedding guests during the reception thanks to which we could blend with them. The bridegroom delivered a deep speech on the meaning of marriage.

The Friday mass was followed by another philosophical session about the drama, which consisted of discussions in groups about several ideas of The Jeweler’s Shop. The Friday was also a major sightseeing day. We visited Sejny, viewpoint in Smolniki and the countryside and even the Russian-Lithuanian-Polish border in Wishtinets. We also tested traditional cuisine, namely kartacze, babka ziemiaczana and sękacz. In the evening, we could experience some local culture performed by a traditional music and dancing group. On Saturday the kayak trip to Augustów started. Mastering the arts of kayaking in the teams of two was an occasion to experience the spirit of cooperation and mutual support between kayak partners. The trip mainly went through Czarna Hańcza – a quite narrow river. As there were many kayaks, keeping the direction was not always easy.

On the other hand, the route made it quite unlikely to lose one’s way so that our group scattered a little bit during the long trip. At some shores we could stop to buy pastries, at others we were confronted with an angry owner who demanded 2 Złoty from everyone who had put a footstep on the bank. We finished our trip in a beautiful camping place called Jałowy Róg, where we slept in huts so that we didn’t have to build tents. The evening was as nice as in the Wigry tavern, if not nicer. We were even joined by other tourists – as we always were in Wigry – and one German started to pass his knowledge of Polish over to a Spaniard.

We started the Sunday with a Holy Mass and then continued our trip. This day, large lakesand several locks on the Kanał Augustowski were part of the route, so that we stayed as alarge group more often and could see some industrial history during the trip. The meaningof this place is not only historical and industrial though, as it is also “Papal route”. As ayoung priest Karol Wojtyła used to take the same water paths. In his memory local peoplecalled part of the Augustowski channel “Mysteries of the Papal consecration path” to give the tourist a possibility not only to enjoy the charm of nature which surrounds everyonewhile kayaking, but also to reflect on the spiritual heritage of the main patron of our project.

We were very happy to follow his steps again. We finished at a very beautiful place named Płaska where we also lived in huts and were even allowed to use a wellness area. On Monday we finished our kayaking trip and spent the rest of the day on the lastphilosophical session. It was followed by our final Holy Mass. After that, we still had theopportunity to visit Augustów at night. As it was late already, not that many restaurantswere open. Nevertheless, it was fun and the last opportunity for some deep conversations. The farewell on Tuesday was quite hard for everyone and many of us carried on with thespirit of community – some stayed in Augustów longer which gave them the chance to seeit at daylight, others visited each other in their home cities or towns.

We are all looking forward to the next trip!


Fr. Joseph Chelamparambath from India

I can really remember, when I heard about Fides et Cultura 2020 for the first time. It was in an evening on 22. June 2022, that I came to Redemptoris Mater seminary in Bonn to visit Pawel Milerski for the confession. After the confession, Pawel told me about fides et cultura 2020 and its summer program and invited me to join in it. Without any hesitation, I was very interested in idea of this project and wanted to be a part of it. So I could arrange to participate in its summer trip of last year. It was really interesting and a nice experience. I enjoyed its theoretical part, philosophical discussions on the drama of Karol Wojtyla (later St. John Paul II), the radiation of the fatherhood and activities, which are offered in this trip, namely to have a best experience in Zakopane, while hiking in Tatra mountains and to visit the birthplace and museum of St. John Paul II and Kraków city, the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland.

I am very happy to share my experience of this year 2023 with summer trip of fides et cultura 2020. This year, our group was a big one in relation to last year’s group. We stayed the first four days in post-Camaldolese monastery in Wigry, which is located on Lake Wigry, in the Suwałki region. The topic for the discussion of this year was drama of Karol Wojtyla, the Jeweller’s shop. Its main message was love between husband and wife. It was a very good appropriate theme for our group, because our group was mainly consisted of youngsters and young families. It was a very good get-together and of Christian fellowship, with prayer and holy mass. In our Group there were 4 priests and we all had a chance to be a main celebrant for the holy mass. Every one of our group enjoyed all its programs and activities like bicycle tour and kayak. I thank especially Father Pawel und organization team for their efficient team work for the success of summer trips of fides et cultura 2020. Thank you all for your friendship.

Julia and Paweł from Warsaw, Poland

This year started very hard for us – a close person from our family passed away unexpectedly, so we didn’t have a head to plan trips. In the meantime, we met Father Paweł and the Fides et Cultura project. While registering for the lecture, I unknowingly registered for the pre-camp meeting, and after the meeting Father Paweł called and asked my husband Paweł how we liked it, and he immediately expressed his desire to participate in the camp. I think that such unexpected and unpredictable actions can be safely attributed to the Holy Spirit.

What definitely touched us right away was the sense of community. We didn’t feel like strangers on the trip, although we didn’t know almost anyone before. We were also captivated by the participants’ approach to our children, who did not seem to be unnecessary ballast, but an enrichment of the trip.

It was extraordinary to observe how many charisms God gives, looking at the participants of the trip. We were moved by this beautiful diversity of the Church. We had a thought that this is how it is in heaven – we are all equal, that this is how God is – beautifully differentiated.

It was extraordinary to observe how many charisms God gives, looking at the participants
of the trip. We were moved by this beautiful diversity of the Church. We had a thought that
this is how it is in heaven – we are all equal, that this is how God is – beautifully differentiated.

A very good experience was the discussion about Wojtyła’s play “In front of the jeweler’s shop”, which deals with the subject of marriage. We could delve into it and meditate on our vocation. We are also very grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Holy Mass almost every day. This experience of a beautiful, diverse and friendly Church will stay in our memory for a long time.

Francisco from Malaga, Spain

In my case and speaking of my experience. Despite the language and cultural barriers, the most enriching thing has been being able to meet/exchange experiences with other people in an environment of Christian brotherhood. Also the proposed topic on human love has helped me in my own life. It is true that feelings help at first, but they must be discerned and focused on finding a suitable person that God puts in your life; It is not something that you have to do yourself, but that you have to welcome. The key is that communion and true dedication can be given. In this situation, peace must appear and not restlessness, joy and not sadness, trust and not fear.