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Poland hosts a meeting of the European Network of University Chaplains

KUL / 16.02.2023

The task of university chaplains is not only to transfer knowledge to young people, but also to support them in rising to the fulness of humanity, i.e. sainthood, observed Fr. Prof. Mirosław Sitarz, Vice Rector for missions of the Catholic University of Lublin during a meeting with representatives of the European Network of University Chaplains.

The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin hosted representatives of the European Network of University Chaplains run by the Jesuits – JUPC (Jesuit University Pastoral Care). In addition to representatives from Poland, the event was also attended by twenty representatives of university chaplaincies from countries such as Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Germany, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom. The theme of the four-day convention, attended by a group of lay and clerical people involved in university chaplaincies, was to provide information and implement methods related to supporting students in difficult life situations.

“Chaplains and staff of academic pastoral services should be sensitive to others and should accept rather than judge young people. After all, everyone is welcome in a chaplaincy,” said an event participant Martha Dimech, who, as a lay person, works in academic pastoral care at L-Università ta’ Malta.

One of the major highlights of the agenda at the Catholic University of Lublin was a presentation by Dr Małgorzata Łysiak from the Department of Clinical Psychology of the host university titled “The most common psychological problems among students. An overview and recommendations for university chaplains.” During the lecture, the attendees of the meeting worked in groups, had a debate and shared their professional experience.

Vice Rector for missions of the Catholic University of Lublin, Fr. Prof. Mirosław Sitarz, met with the participants and said: “I am glad that we are hosting people responsible for university chaplaincies across Europe, Jesuits and lay people. Supporting young people is a very difficult and responsible function in the Church,” emphasised Fr. Prof. Sitarz, who was himself a university chaplain in Warsaw for 4.5 years.

During the convention, an international Holy Mass was held in the University Church of the Catholic University of Lublin. The Mass was followed by an interactive lecture on NVC, or Non-Violent Communication, entitled. “You never… I always…”, or how to improve our communication with our loved ones. The lecture was delivered by Dr Beata Hołtyń, a psychologist from Casimir the Great University in Bydgoszcz, and Piotr Hołtyń, a specialist in relationship support and NVC implementation in organisations.

Congresses of JUPC, or Jesuit University Pastoral Care, take place periodically for over a decade, each time in a different country. This was the first time Poland has hosted the event. These meetings are meant to, among others, help exchange experiences and good practices regarding pastoral care at the university as well as foster international cooperation and further training in the fields of psychology and communication.