Each year on the 17th of February our Congregation recalls its founding in Paris with its celebration of "Founders' Day" in the various local communities throughout the world. For this year's Founders' Day Father General shared some words with his confreres:
A Message from Father General on the Foundation Day of the Congregation of the Resurrection of the Lord
Happy Founders Day 2018!
I believe that this Founders Day is a special one, with the recent recognition of Resurrectionist Father Paul Smolikowski as a Venerable Servant of God. He is the first ‘son’ of Bogdan Janski to receive such a distinction. That is indeed something to celebrate!
When I read about the life of the Venerable Servant of God, Father Paul Smolikowski, I feel his true reflection of the spirit of each of our Founders:
- The Vision of Bogdan Janski
- The Spirituality of Father Peter Semenenko, and
- The Missionary Spirit of Father Jerome Kajsiewicz.
Indeed, it was not and continues not to be any exaggeration to call him “one who was the soul of the Congregation and embodied within himself the whole tradition of the Community”.
Father Paul Smolikowski understood, and followed, the vision of the Founder. Bogdan Janski’s and our charism of hope which urges us to strive for our personal resurrection and for the resurrection of the society led Father Paul to work not only for his own sanctification, but also for that of others, leading to the resurrection of a new society. This vision led him to do great things for God, showing leadership in education in Bulgaria, Ukraine, and in the Polish College in Rome.
Father Paul not only struggled to put into practice Jański’s vision of hope. In his life he reflected also Jański’s virtue/attitude of hope. For this reason he was willing to take risks, some of which cost him dearly, in order to fulfill what he believed to be the will of God. Even during the turmoil and resistance during the great constitutional crisis (1902-1905), he continued valiantly to lead and guide the Congregation as he believed the Lord was calling us to be and do. He never took his eyes of the Risen Lord! What once he wrote about Bogdan, “Despite all the severe interior trials, Janski never once lost his confidence of hope in God” is a perfect description of his own “interior trials” and of his faithfulness to the charism we inherited from the Founder.
Father Paul Smolikowski embraced and embodied the spirituality of Father Peter Semenenko, C.R. We must remember that he knew Father Peter, and personally experienced his wisdom, passion, and holiness. Fr. Paul’s study of the history and spirituality of our Congregation allowed him to grow in that spirituality that recognizes our misery, nothingness and corruption that calls us to turn to God and his unconditional love. Father Paul wrote, of Father Semenenko, “He deserved the recognition more for his holy life as a religious. [...] he gave heroic witness of the great heights of sanctification which were attainable in the Congregation”. Father Paul has reached that “height” in his recognition by the Universal Church of his sanctity of life!
Father Paul Smolikowski grasped the international and missionary spirit of Father Jerome Kajsiewicz. Father Jerome had a vision of the Congregation that was not always accepted by the membership in those early years. His encouragement of missions outside of Europe was not applauded by all. Yet, Father Paul, understood this dimension of the Congregation, and faithfully responded to ministry in Bulgaria and the Ukraine, two places in which he played a significant role. He embraced this spirit whole-heartedly by becoming “all things to all”, and did heroic things for the Congregation and the Church.
Indeed, we have a great deal to celebrate this year, in particular, with this recognition by the Church of the heroic life and virtues of Father Paul Smolikowski, C.R.!
However, this also serves as a call to each of us, as Resurrectionists here and now to recognize, accept and embrace that same vision, spirituality and apostolic mission that bore such fruit in the life of Venerable Servant of God, Father Paul Smolikowski, C.R. I can imagine that during his life Father Paul never had on his ‘wish list’ or ‘bucket list’ to be declared a Venerable Servant of God by a future Pontiff. Yet, it has happened! Today we are called to live the vision, spirituality and apostolic mission of the Risen Christ. We may not see our lives as heroic or virtuous enough to be recognized by the Church (or even by our own brothers), yet the Spirit is at work in and through each of us, and we are all pilgrims on the journey, “inwardly renewed” to better reflect that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”. May our lives “serve as signs of the transforming power of God’s love”, so that we may be “instruments for the renewal of society, bring God’s life and love”, and truly work for the resurrection of society.
May the celebration of this Founders Day 2018 be a source of joy for each one of you, celebrating the fruits of our traditions and spirituality as we honour our Founders – Bogdan Janski, Father Peter Semenenko and Father Jerome Kajsiewicz – and in a particular way this year, our Resurrectionist brother, Venerable Servant of God, Father Paul Smolikowski.
God bless you!
Very Rev. Paul S. Voisin, C.R.
Posted on Feb 2018,