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The Society of Christ for Polish Migrants (SChr)

In a series about the Religious Congregations living and working in the Diocese of East Anglia, Fr Karol Porczak MS, Vicar for the Religious, introduces the The Society of Christ for Polish Migrants (SChr).

In 1918, after 123 years of being partitioned, Poland regained independence. Following this, the Church leaders in Poland could not ignore the requests raised by Poles calling for Polish priests to minister to them in all corners of the world.

The Polish Primate, Cardinal August Hlond (1881-1948), consulted the Holy See to find a solution to this demand. Subsequently, the Cardinal established the Society of Christ for Polish Migrants as a new religious congregation on September 8, 1932.

The congregation’s charism is based primarily on the spirituality of its founder, Venerable August Cardinal Hlond, which was implemented by Fr Ignacy Posadzy SChr (1898-1984), the Society’s co-founder. The external sign of that is simple piety, based on a deep life of prayer and well-prepared liturgy.

The first priests of the Society started their pastoral work among the Polish diaspora in Paris and London in 1937. The Main House in Poznań (Poland) has become the centre of the Society and its headquarters.

After the Second World War, the Communist authorities made obtaining a passport very difficult; despite this, the Society continued to prepare and train candidates for the eventual possibility of working abroad.

1956 was the year when the Society undertook its foreign mission on a larger scale.

Currently, the Society carries out its mission in Poland, in six foreign provinces, and a select number of countries in which priests answer directly to the Superior General.

The Province of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of the Congregation provide pastoral care for Poles in England and Wales. 34 priests from the Society of Christ work in 24 parishes as part of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales. The Polish Catholic Mission coordinates the pastoral care of the Society of Christ in the UK. Today, the Society is in charge of nearly 70 parishes in over 200 towns, where Mass is celebrated in the Polish language on a regular basis.

In our Diocese there are currently two Polish members of the Society of Christ working in Peterborough providing pastoral care for the Polish community in the city located at the church of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Pictured above are Fr Sławomir Strycharski SChr, left, and Fr Marek Ogorzały SChr (Superior).