Skiing in Cassocks: Competition for Polish Priests
On January 26 in Poland, priests and seminarians competed in the Pope John Paul II Cup skiing competition. A RISU correspondent visited the competition, which was held according to the rules of the International Ski Federation.
Most participants were from the south of Poland, but some came from Gdansk, Lodz and Lublin. The oldest participant, Father Wladyslaw Nowobilski, was 71, but that did not stop him from becoming the winner in the oldest category. This year, according to organizers, there were few participants – only 21, whereas last time there were twice as many.
“This initiative started sixteen years ago because ski competitions are held for people of various professions, and we thought, why not organize something similar for spiritual persons. Pope John Paul II, who himself was a good skier, blessed the initiative. Over time, we also decided to involve the laity of the parishes. So a new category of participants was created: Duos to the Goal, where not only married couples, but also parents and children, and even grandmothers and grandchildren compete,” said one of the organizers of the competition Father Grzegorz Schwartz, whose victory in his category was also made possible thanks to the great support he had.
He also pointed out that competitions are not only nationwide in Poland, but also ecumenical in nature: in one of the previous years an Orthodox priest took part in the competition, and the whole event is open to all. This year the event was supported and blessed by Metropolitan of Katowice Archbishop Wiktor Skworc.
One of the organizers, Father Damian Kopek, says that priests should not only give an example of how to pray, but also how to rest and honestly compete. “The priest is with the people and for the people. I can give an example of how to have a good time – without alcohol, with honest competition, and also with the communal spirit of the mountain,” he explained.
The first demonstrational descent in cassocks is beautiful and symbolic. In such a way, the priests and seminarians demonstrate the integrity of priesthood: in cassocks not only to church but also to play sports. Although during the competition the cassocks are optional, seminarian Piotr Orliecki decided to compete in his cassock. He was not victorious, but his debut was successful.
While in competitions there are always winners and those who are short a few tenths of a second, equally happy were those who stood on the podium and those who were cheering, and this created the feeling of a family holiday.