1969-90 Religious life

Visit of Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, November 1987
Visit of Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, November 1987

Religious life is basically limited to the Sunday mass, feast days, May prayers and the rosary. The "Kolo Rozancowe" has existed for many years.

Since its opening, a number of changes have taken place in the chapel. In 1972 pews were purchased from the demolished Dale Street Methodist Church, and the following year a fire escape was installed. All the windows were re-glazed with coloured glass. In 1987 the chapel was carpeted, ready for the November visit of Bishop Szczepan Wesoly, who came to bless the tabernacle. This was his 3rd visit, the previous ones being for the opening of the centre in 1969, and on 25th August 1974.

Each year pilgrimages are made to Fawley Court, Pitsford (until its closure) and from 1976 to Hednesford. A special trip was organized for Pope John Paul II's visit to Crystal Palace on 30th May 1982.

The biggest celebration was the 50th anniversary of Monsignor Jozef Golab's elevation to the priesthood, on 23rd June 1985. His life's work has already been described in a brochure published on that occasion, and his tragic experiences in the German concentration camps of Buchenwald and Dachau are the subject of a book written by the survivors, "Cudem Ocaleni", to which he himself contributed a chapter. In Leamington Spa he is remembered for his 25 years service as parish priest, and his crucial role in the purchase of the Centre. Although officially, the Centre was bought with the help of a mortgage, obtained from the Polish Benevolent Fund, what actually happened was that Monsignor Jozef Golab put up his own money, which he had received by way of compensation for the years spent in the concentration camps. He was therefore carrying all the risks associated with the venture.

The 50th anniversary was in 2 parts: The main religious celebrations, attended by Bishop Szczepan Wesoly, numerous clergy and invited guests, took part in Redditch on the exact day of the anniversary, 23rd June 1985. After mass, a reception was held at the Redditch Polish Centre. Although this was jointly organized by the "Zarzady" of Redditch and Leamington Spa, the Leamington Spa community decided to hold a second, local celebration. On 30th June 1985, Monsignor Jozef Golab, members of his family from Poland, and Stefan Soboniewski, chair of SPK (Polish Ex-Servicemen's Association), were the guests of honour at a reception in the clubroom. Prof. Zbigniew Antoni Scholtz, in his role as a minister of the Polish Government in Exile, awarded the Monsignor the Order of Polonia Restituta. Dr Stanislaw Jan Librowski spoke on behalf of the "Zarzady" of the "Kolo" and Club.

Shortly afterwards the Monsignor retired, but was not forgotten, and each year his "Imieniny" (Paton Saint's Day) continued to be marked with a dinner.

When Father Marian Flis, a former missionary, took over as parish priest, he introduced lectures on religious matters, which were well attended. He celebrated his 25th anniversary of elevation to the priesthood in Leamington Spa, and encouraged members from Leamington Spa to take a wider role in the Church. On 30th April 1994, a delegation attended an IPAK religious conference in Coventry.