Catholic Life

Poles gather at Balham

The Polish Institute of Catholic Action in Great Britain (Ipak) held its annual conference last month at Christ the King Community Centre in Balham, south London, writes Józef Łopuszyński.

The main speaker was the former bishop-delegate for emigré Poles, Archbishop Szczepan Wesoły, who spoke on the theme “Be a witness to God’s love”.

After the main talk, delegates who had attended from as far afield as Wolverhampton and Leeds split into four groups to discuss Archbishop Wesoły’s speech.

Discussions continued over coffee, and then one person from each group fed back to the assembly the main points of their group discussion.

The day began with prayer, and ended with Holy Mass in the Church.

Ipak is a lay apostolate whose main purpose is to assist the clergy in evangelisation. It was called into existence in 1943, and formed as an organisation with the approval of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in October 1947.

The annual assembly takes place at a different venue each year.

Archbishop Wesoły is based in Rome and is a well-loved priest. The archbishop was involved with Ipak right from the start, being one of its leaders in the north of England.

Many of the delegates are thought to have gone to the assembly specifically on account of the fact that Archbishop Wesoły was the main speaker. The event was organised by Ipak in close co-operation with the Polish Catholic Mission, whose recently appointed rector Mgr Stefan Wylężek was also present.

The Polish Mission developed after the Second World War as a means of ensuring the pastoral care of the Polish community.