Poland: Fu Shenfu Migrant Centre in Warsaw

By Br. Carlos Ferrada Montero, SVD

The SVD commitment to migrants and refugees began in the 1980s when foreigners came to Poland. In the early 1990s, migrants from Sri Lanka, Poland, and Afghanistan arrived. At the same time, more and more refugees and migrants were coming from Chechnya and Ingushetia, and African countries. They stayed in special centers for foreigners.

Fr. Edward Osiecki SVD began to travel to these centers with the sisters of the Congregation of Missionaries of Love founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. His involvement has led more and more migrants to ask for help, not just pastoral help. An extensive group was Vietnamese. In this context, it became providential to the arrival in Poland in 2003 of the Vietnamese recruiter Fr. Joachim Vo Thanh Khanh SVD, who soon became pastor of the personal parish for Vietnamese Catholics in Warsaw.

The increasing number of migrants and refugees and the associated new challenges led the religious authorities of the SVD Polish Province to operate at the Missionary House of the Holy Spirit in Warsaw. The ceremonial opening and dedication of the Centre took place on September 12, 2005, led by the then Ordinary of Warsaw – Prague Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Glodz. St. Joseph Freinademetz, the first missionary recruiter in China, was chosen as the patron saint of the Center. The Chinese called him “Fu Shenfu – a good father.” The full name of the Centre is, therefore: “Migrant Fu Shenfu Centre.” The first director of the Centre was Fr. Antoni Koszorz SVD, assisted by Fr. Edward Osiecki SVD, Fr. Jacek Gniadek SVD, and Fr. Joachim Vo Thanh Khanh. From the beginning, the Franciscan Sisters of the Missionary Mary and the Missionary Assembly of the Servants of the Holy Spirit were also involved in the Center’s activities.

The activities and assistance of the Migrant Centre are composed of three essential issues: legalization of residence and assistance in finding a job, learning Polish and pastoral and catechetical matters. In addition, the Migrant Centre, as part of the use of EU funds, carried out a project throughout 2009 on the legalization of residence and education for Asian citizens. It is also worth mentioning the significant participation of the Migrant Centre in the preparation of a project related to the spectacle entitled “Solitaire,” showing the drama of migrants when legalizing their stay in Europe.

Exciting initiatives were activities on intercultural exchange among children within the project “Kindergarten of the World” framework. These activities were also carried out due to preparations for experiencing religious holidays in Poland. We organized lunar new year celebrations for the Chinese and Vietnamese. Occasional meetings with all those involved in the migrant assistance take place on Migrant Day in the Catholic Church (January) and on International Refugee Day in June. Anyone can come to the Resort to enjoy free tea or coffee. A free internet café is open daily, and satellite TV is available.