Sunday, December 30, 2007

I love my Poles


I love my Poles, they have been worshipping in this Church for the last 60 years, well actually longer, there was a huge number of them here during the war. At times about every four or five years I think it is high time they found there own place to worship, or started contributing seriously to the financial costs of maintaining our rather bedraggled Church, and use their considerable talents to help evangelise the English. I find it irritating when I find that the corporal has been misfolded, or microphones have been moved etc. etc. etc. I love there piety and their commitment to the faith, and the richness of their family life.

I know when the interview with the Cardinal first appeared in a Polish language paper there was a bit of an outcry, see the highlights in the Telegraph:


Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said: "I'm quite concerned that the Poles are creating a separate church in Britain. I would want them to be part of the Catholic life of this country.

"I would hope those responsible for the Polish church here, and the Poles themselves, will be aware that they should become a part of local parishes as soon as possible when they learn enough of the language."

Despite the archbishop's also using his Christmas message to appeal to the nation to be more welcoming to immigrants, Grazyna Sikorska, of the Polish Catholic Mission for England and Wales, said the community had been upset.

She told the Catholic newspaper The Tablet: "How can he demand that we stop praying in Polish? Is it a sin? I feel my inner conscience has been violated, leaving me spiritually raped.

"Fr Tadeusz Kukla, the vicar-delegate for Poles in England and Wales, said: "If we lose our national identity, we lose everything."

A spokesman for Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said the archbishop was keen to work with the Polish chaplaincy. "He believes the Polish community contributes greatly to the Church in this country, but closer collaboration would make it even more effective."


I agree with His Eminence there is a serious problem, the Polish chaplain here sees there is a problem. The bishop-elect of Middlesbrough, Mgr Drainey, tried to deal with it by putting on a course to Anglicise foreign priests, I don't think that is the answer.

Many young Poles, even some who have been here for 50 or 60 years, don't have much English. During the time I have been here the number of Poles who attend Mass here have risen from about a hundred to three or four time that number. Most are young. Most are single. Most intend to to return home.

There is a very different attitude to the faith in the two the communities. Before Christmas I heard a few dozen confessions, the Polish priest heard a few hundred. At Easter he went to another south coast parish and heard confessions from 8am at night until 2pm in the morning. Amongst my congregation everyone goes to Holy Communion amongst the Poles, less than half would go on a normal Sunday.

Polish parents who might come to England tend to leave their children at home to get a good Catholic education, they don't seem to trust the English education system. The content of sermons seems to be different, Polish clergy to be doctrinal and scriptural and would accuse English clergy of being light weight.

When Poles or other Central and Eastern Europeans come to see me they invariably want to speak about prayer, or their sexuality and they way it relates to the rest of their lives, both these subjects are taboo in amongst the natives.

On the whole I think the problem is that we have a form of Catholicism that does not meet the needs of the Poles.


I think the reason why so many Poles were upset by article is that is that it seems to assume that everything in the English/Welsh is alright, and it is everyone else who has the problem. Perhaps we ought to be complimentary of the efforts made by the Polish clergy, who seem to be incredibly hard working. I suspect there would be no criticism if the Portuguese, or Maltese, or Slovak communities were being spoken about, they have no chaplaincy provision, and the lapsation is almost total.
We should learn from the Irish immigrants, who we allowed to rebuild the Church in England, but maybe it is language that is the real problem. In a multi-ethnic and cultural diverse society, what is it that the Pope is suggesting?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

We have an international liturgical language, Latin. Perhaps we should use it more, and the Poles (and all the others) could feel more at home. The Irish were able to build Church in 19C England, because they never expected their vernacular to be used at Mass. Latin unified Catholic believers. It can happen again now, if we do not selfishly cling to a sub-English vernacular for worship. Vatican II and its authentic interpreters, JPII and Ben16, have shown us the way. When will our Bishops encourage us to follow their lead?

ADV said...

Father, some comments which I know will not be popular but I think require some thought, careful thought, beyond emotion.

I think one of the problems that has occurred over the recent past (centuries) has been the rise in a type of nationalism which is part of the problem too. This modern nationalistic identity has infected the Church even more in the last 40 – 50 years, though it did begin before. Our Catholic identity/culture is being lost and diluted in the nationalistic identities. The language is a HUGE part of this problem and I think for us in the Roman Rite it is why Latin is so terribly important. We must have the visible unity at the top, in the ritual and public expression. It makes the local custom, personal piety and vernacular fit into something that is unifying instead of the other way round, where it causes division in expression of the Faith. It has been put backwards for awhile now. I think the Holy Father has been reminding us of our Catholic culture and the importance of this and why Latin matters. We loose this at our peril. This all goes beyond the ‘bells and smells’ and other superficial attractions of ritual language.

The Irish question. I believe this has been part of the problem in English speaking countries. Here I know I will probably cause some disagreement, but I call on people to think beyond nationalism. I think in Ireland and to a lesser degree in England, the expression of the Faith became affected by the puritanical culture in which it existed as a suppressed religion. It took on some of the cultural aspects that were part of the extremism in thought, which became repressive and controlling in extreme way. In the end it lead to a type of ‘clericalism’ as opposed to the ‘secularism’ in which it existed and which we now find the logical development of. I am not saying the Faith changed, just the way it was practiced. We must find the balance, ‘in medio stat virtus’.

I think this was exported by the Irish to America and the U.K. and perhaps was in-part, part of the reaction against the Church seen here in Ireland and other English speaking countries? Indeed I think it cam be argued that this ‘clericalism’ and unquestioning obedience has been, and is still used to effect the radical modernisation that has occurred in the last 40 odd years. I have always been struck by the differences in Catholic culture on the continent and in the U.K. (amongst the more ‘English’ Catholics, the older recusant families for example or those areas associated with them) and the Catholicism that exists in Ireland and those parts of the world influence by the Irish priests and religious. It was perhaps less noticeable before the changes in the Liturgy, and yes again language played a part, but culture does too. I think we need to think beyond nationalism and national languages. Our Faith is older and should be beyond such things and people need to be reminded and educated to understand that. The pastoral problems associated with the veritable ‘Tower of Babel’ that has been created now will not be solved by just offering everything in a multitude of language in liturgical matters. People need educating where the vernacular is relevant and appropriate and were not. For us in the Latin/Roman Rite I think the answer is obvious in regards to the public ritual and liturgy of the Church, though difficult and it will take time.

Somon Moore said...

So how much do they contribute Father?

ADV said...

Anonymous... I really don't agree that JP II for all his personal sanctity was a authentic interpreter of Vatican II. How often have were we not subject to most awful liturgy in the vernacular full of inculturation?
The Bishops certainly have followed his lead. I think time will show this. It is fascinating to watch liberals embrace JPII now.

Rita said...

Father,
Is the Irish example such a good one? I can think of more than one town in N England where the 19th Century Irish were virtually forced to build their own church because the locals couldn't cope with the "hoards of rosary mumbling Irish shawlees". These churches became Irish ghetto churches, serving the Irish community, frighteningly Fenian in outlook and distrusting of English priests. Maybe these parishes I know weren't typical, but they've left their mark with the tribal Catholicism that still unfortunately exists in Lancashire and Yorkshire.

I for one don't want to see separate churches. In those regions where the Poles aren't able to have their own priests, Latin Mass goes down very well with all.

Paul, South Midlands said...

L A T I N

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gemoftheocean said...

Regards the corporal being misfolded: I bet this would be a relatively easy problem to solve. Probably some person in their community sets up the Mass and is simply unaware that this item shouldn't be fussed with, as it's important not to wave it around if there may be particles from the Host contained therein. Once THAT part is 'spained, the Poles, having reverence for the Eucharist, would be careful with that. It's a pet peeve of mine that whomever does the altar linens as of late is oblivious to how the item is used and has it ironed the wrong way around. You, being the Parish Priest are allowed to throttle the person doing it, in a nice way. :-D If the Polish priest is doing it he should know better and you can swat him on the side of the head. [I was once visiting some parish in our county, and I saw some dumb deacon, setting out the corporal on the altar just before Mass waving it around...I felt like saying to him "Who the hell trained you." But unfortunately, I knew.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

My Polish friends alternate between their polish Church & ours...their culture is very important to them as is passing on the faith & language. however i also have some Polish friends who are almost anti-Catholic & want nothing to do with Poland..so the situation is complex..

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

The most telling remark cited in the Telegraph article is the one from the Polish Vicar-delegate: “If we lose our national identity, we lose everything.” This is the key to understanding why the Poles “won’t integrate.”

In Poland – as in Ireland – the Catholic Church acted as kind of a rallying point and surrogate national establishment in the centuries when the country was ruled from abroad. This has created a vastly different relationship between Polish Catholics and how they relate to and express their faith, and what we are used to in the Anglo-Saxon countries – where being a Catholic is almost a partial opt-out from the (protestantized) national culture.

I had business dealings in Poland in the immediate post-communist period, which is when I acquired my fondness for the Poles. I was once in the country during one of Pope John Paul’s visits and I remember travelling through one Polish city where the bunting was out to greet the Pope. I noticed that around all the lamp-posts there were two intertwined striped ribbons – a red and white one (the Polish flag) and a yellow and white one (the Vatican flag). How telling – I wish I had taken a camera with me, as the interwoven ribbons epitomized how Catholicism is inextricably bound up with the Polish national identity.

Because of this association, and also because the experience of Nazism and Communism sharpened the Poles’ religious instincts, the Poles didn’t just junk their pre-Conciliar spirituality, de-emphasize their Marian devotion or feel obliged to tone things down in the interests of ecumenism after 1970. True, some pretty awful modern churches were built in Poland but, apart from that, the only effect that Vatican II seems to have had for Poles is a change of liturgical language from Latin to Polish. All the standard pre-Conciliar behaviour patterns – in terms of popular piety, patterns of Mass attendance, the proportion of communicants and use of the confessional – are the same as in 1960.

In theory, greater use of Latin might be a way of uniting the nationalities in your parish by getting everyone to worship together. The only catch (and I regard this as a great irony) is that the Poles may prefer the Vatican II use of the vernacular, as it gives them a Polish national Mass which caters to their national particularities and patriotic instincts, and protects them from being infected by the modernism and liturgical banality of modern British Catholicism. The Poles also hate contemporary UK secular culture and they can detect the symbiosis between the anglicanized wishy-washiness of English Catholicism and the godless secularism which surrounds it.

On the side of the angels said...

In other words father you agree with the cardinal that there is a problem; but totally disagree with him regarding the solution that has so outraged and offended so many Poles ?
I was a pastoral assistant in a parish with a large polish community; but they really were treated [especially by the curate who was vehemently and vociferously pro the italian community] as fourth class 'weirdos' who merely used the church for their rituals that had NOTHING [in the antagonistic people's view] to do with the parish/diocesan schema of how the church should be run; and they would rather choke on their own vomit than ask the poles to participate in anything diocesan - they honestly treated them like aliens ! It was deeply saddening to all involved.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Paul,
Our Bishop announced our diocese will have a Pastoral Council, I hope he will ask the Polish Chaplaincy to take part.

gemoftheocean said...

I've been thinking off an on re: your problem this afternoon. You've got a built in problem we here in the US don't have. When we get immigrants (by and large) they come here expecting to become US citizens. I had a set of eastern European grandparents on my mother's side. My grandmother had just a few years of schooling in "the old country" and night school here when she was studying for her citizenship. She always had mistakes in her English grammar but could understand everyone else fine. The children (my mom and her siblings) spoke Ukrainian at home, and learned English at school. No trauma, no zillions of dollars of "immersion." Just learn or repeat a grade until you did. [Mom reports that only aunt X "who was a dummy" [mom's words] had to repeat 1st grade. The older kids taught it to the younger ones, the adults picked up the language at work (the men usually making better progress as then more married women stayed at home, especially when the children were small.) My grandmother picked up the rudiments as a chamber maid, and from her children, later radio and TV. To hae lived in the UK since WWII and sTILL not speak the English language is positively criminal. It's natural the older immigrants should help the younger ones, preserving the customs is fine -- but if they want to be more than second class citizens in the UK then English is a must. Then the thought occured to me, given your geography and the EI itself, do these people think they can NOT immigrant? That's NOT good. If they don't intend on becoming UK citizens (or subjects if you must) then they should either have X # of years, say five to pass a test in some basic English skills or go back home. [I don't think I can run for Parliament there, you can be my campaign manager) That's the soapbox level.

On the practical level, how close are you acquinted with the Polish chaplain. Surely he can see that non-integration to a degree would cause natural resentment. Have you met with him privately? If your respective congregations see the two of you getting along like a house on fire, your charges will co-operate better. Here in the US in our parish, it's pretty much an "English only" BUT you'd be hard pressed to find a parishioner that didn't have immigrant parents or grand parents or great-grandparents You'll find a fair number of Irish last names, Spanish, Filipino, Italians etc. etc. Last year we had an "international dinner" where it was a parish wide get together and there must have been about 20 different families that made a lot of food to share around. We had everything from French beef bourginion [sp!!!] to Irish Soda Bread, Filipino lumpia, Borscht all sorts of stuff. Would your parishioners go for things like that? What about on Fridays having a late afternoon Benediction IN LATIN...and a fish supper afterwards during Lent especially?
How did Christmas go? What about the different choirs doing a presentation everyone could enjoy. That sort of stuff., Get creative! Would someone be willing to teach English classes in exchange for rapairs on their home? etc.

[BTW, you've been musing off and on re: the disrespect NO seem to have, in English, anyway. I think your Poles tend to prove you wrong on that point. It's not so much what language the Mass is in, it's how people treat any Mass! And more importantly how they integrate the Sacrament into their daily lives. Was it you, I think, who mentioned that in parishes where there was a great devotion to adoration, NO or TLM [it didn't make a difference] it really benefited the parish as to the whole "tone."

Best wishes, yours can't be an easy burden to bear.

Karen
[Oh, yes, and **** skippy they should be chipping in big time after 60+ years to keep the lights on, the heating bill paid and the pastor in an icon or two!]

Anonymous said...

i find the whole notion of church in the UK a very parochial one and wish most fervently that we realise we are part of a church that is made up of many peoples gathered by the one lord. our cultural backgrounds all add to our experience of god and asking the poles to ignore their culture is tantamount to suggesting that the english church to forget the martyrs of the reformation.

let us pray for the cardinal and the bishops

Anonymous said...

Father

You really should learn the difference between there and their.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Anonymous,
Thank you, I actually do know the difference between "there" and "their", I am just not any good at proof reading!
Quotation marks are good to get a hold of too, they save us from asking, "Where?" and "Whose?".

Mary Ann, Singin Mum said...

Latin would certainly help heal a divide. And it is the language of our rite- why not use it, as BXVI suggests?

Methinks the English (and Americans, too) could do well to have the Poles worshiping reverently side by side.

Paul, South Midlands said...

"True, some pretty awful modern churches were built in Poland but, apart from that, the only effect that Vatican II seems to have had for Poles is a change of liturgical language from Latin to Polish.

All the standard pre-Conciliar behaviour patterns – in terms of popular piety, patterns of Mass attendance, the proportion of communicants and use of the confessional – are the same as in 1960"

This would appear to be the real problem in the eyes of our episcopate.

It would appear that the Polish community is treated in certain quarters like the traditionalist community - and for exactly the same reasons.

Fr Ray, I hope too that the Polish Chaplaincy is invited to partake.

When I was at school in south London, there were always Polish children at school with me. Polish input into the UK catholic community is nothing new at all. In fact one of my class mates from that time, whose parents were both born in Poland is now a fairly recently ordained priest in a diocese in the South of England, so integration is far from a pipe dream.

What we need is an urgent programme of instigation of new rite masses in Latin in cosmopolitan parishes[if a priest wanted to say ALL his masses in new rite latin there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to stop him].

Then, there would then be absolutely no problem with Polish priests saying masses for the English community and English priests saying mass for the Polish community. A short concise sermon could even be given in both languages. If the Polish community are used to the Novus Ordo, then probably a switch directly to the tridentine would be too much too fast.

Fr Christoper Basden has shown it can be done at St Bedes, where he has had a succession of Polish priests in residence.

Also here in Bedfordshire, the Polish Church in Bedford has kindly allowed the FSSP, with thec Bishops permission, to say a weekly Extraordinary rite mass there.

Moretben said...

Latin's not the issue, and neither is the TLM - the Poles would still want their "own" Low Masses over which to sing their own Polish non-liturgical hymns. The Catholic Church is, after all, a Polish institution primarily, to which the rest of us are suffered to adhere.

I hope this little pebble in our collective shoe will assert its presence the next time any of us feels like sneering at the national/jurisdictional disorders of the Orthodox.

Henry said...

The damage done by the switch to the vernacular is now becoming evident. It is a problem wherever there are people coming to church and speaking different languages - Belgium (Dutch/French), western Poland (German/Polish), Scandinavia (just about any language you can think of except the local one).

The liturgy is a public thing. When you go to Mass in France or Germany you don't expect it to be in English, though it ought to be in Latin which is what you often find in Scandinavia because the priests often don't know the language themselves.

This adoption of vernacular for the liturgy must be put into reverse. Fast. Its use should be ultimately restricted to consenting adults in private ie prayer groups, religious communities, etc. If the bishops had any sense they would insist on an orderly phase-out of English, starting with parishes like ours where congregations are from a variety of linguistic communities. As they have been complaining about the new English translations this is how they can avoid using them.

That said, if you go to live and work in another country you should expect to have to learn the language and customs of your new country. It is bad manners not to. There is a need to be firm on this matter. It should be made clear to people that they are entirely welcome, but will be expected to conform to the "house rules". And you cannot have a parish in a parish. If people's feelings are so badly hurt by having the public prayers in the language of the country they have chosen to go an live in for an extended period, they really ought to consider whether they should be staying there.

But one obviously has to go some way to meet people where they are, and, in addition to a phase-out of vernacular liturgies, there are other things we could do. The newsletter might be in English and Polish, printed so that starting from one side you get the English version and from the other you get the Polish version, and it should include the readings printed in both languages. But the "Polish" mass should be the same as the "English" one, ie in Latin, with just the readings and sermon in Polish, and the collection should be shared with the parish. This is the perfect opportunity to get rid of the misguided reform. (deform?), so how about you and the Polish chaplain taking soundings and seeing what the feeling is?

I think gemoftheocean has some good ideas on how better to integrate. And you might try to encourage the Polish chaplain to develop his taste in Highland malts. Perhaps we could also help by arranging conversation groups to help people with their English. I would not mind giving an hour a week.

Incidentally, I am not happy about having national symbols in the church, except on the national patron saints' feast days. The Catholic Church is trans-national and in a multi-ethnic parish it is excluding.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Paul brings a lot of the strands together with his comment on my observation that Catholicism in Poland carried on business as usual post-Vatican II and wasn't really changed by it:

"This would appear to be the real problem in the eyes of our episcopate.

It would appear that the Polish community is treated in certain quarters like the traditionalist community - and for exactly the same reasons."

And hence the impasse. The solution to the problem of ecclesial ethnic ghettoes in multi-racial societies probably lies in part with the greater use of Latin. But for many bishops this is a nightmare scenario: multi-culturalism is supposed to lead to rainbow coalitions and inculturated liturgies, and not be the Trojan Horse which vindicates Summorum Pontificum!

And - long live the Poles - most senior clerics don't like seeing concrete evidence that there are alternative ways of implementing the decrees of Vatican II which don't lead to 75% of Catholics losing the faith in two generations.

Anonymous said...

Father, from what you say it sounds as though the flour of the Catholic Church in Britain could very much do with the introduction of a good dose of Polish yeast. Since it appears that an increasing proportion of the most committed Catholics in the UK are of Polish origin, perhaps it would be a good thing if one of the requirements for His Eminence's successor at Westminster were to be that he should be able to speak Polish and so be better placed both to value their spirituality and to encourage them to share more of it with their indigenous fellow Catholics.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I agree with everyone, the changes of Vatican II failed to anticipate the massive migrations of peoples. The USA is crazy because virtually every parish is forced to be bi-lingual. A quite unnecessary overhead as parishes close and merge.

Mary Martha said...

Hmmm... I wonder if the real effort should be put into integrating the Polish Catholics into the English parishes other ways and then letting the liturgy follow.

I mean - are the Poles invited and welcomed to Parish events? Are they encouraged to share their ethnic events and traditional devotions with the English community?

Here in Chicago there are lots of multi ethnic parishes where Mass is said in English, Spanish and or Polish. However, they key is the effort is made (admittedly not always successfully) to bring together the larger Catholic community across ethnic and language barriers.

Anonymous said...

Please, please remember that the pre-VII church wasn't the guarantee of unity that some would like it to be. Certainly in areas where there was no migration, but if you look at the US, in which the RC population multiplied during the 100 years from, say 1850-1950, ethnic tensions were evident and real - every major city is filled with churches (most now shuttered) that were no more than a quarter to a half mile from each other but that were for various nationalaties - the Irish parish just down the road from the German and never the twain shall meet. The Irish bishops who dominated the US hierarchy did a lot of damage by refusing to meet the pastoral needs of Eastern Europeans, and so on.

Jay said...

I live in England since 1990 and have my Polish/English grandchildren born here, they are extremely lovely btw. We (myself, my husband and two children) came here knowing nobody, completely on our own and out of necessity we started to attend English Catholic Churches, which was quite difficult decision for none of us knew how to pray in English. For me it was almost two years when I started to be relatively comfortable using English in prayer. Later on, we found Polish Church in Islington, London, and it was great. However, it was closer and easier to attend Masses in our Parish Church. I can only say that in the end I became Trad and started attending LMS Masses mainly because of greater devotion and piety I found there. In concluding words I can only say England is not the most welcoming country in the world for immigrants, there are very devout Catholics and England has become my second motherland, however I feel extremely happy when I go to Poland even for a short visit. It is great comfort and I cannot stop talking Polish. But I love England and there is no way back for us now. God bless you all and I wish you holy and blessed New Year!
PS. I am reading now interesting book about Ireland faithfulness to the Mass which gives great summary of Reformation times from Catholic point of view, and I have no doubt puritanism and Cromwellian persecutions had a significant impact on English-Irish religious relationship.

Jay said...

"i also have some Polish friends who are almost anti-Catholic & want nothing to do with Poland..so the situation is complex.."

I think that some immigrants are often over-zealous to integrate quickly even for the sake of their national identity, which is not good. We are what we were born, it cannot be changed. This attitude to integrate 'no matter what', can even produce denial and detachment from Catholic religion.
To answer worries of American lady with Ukrainian background - according to British Home Office research and statistics, Poles are one of the ethnic groups which adopts and integrate most quickly in England and maybe for this very reason Poles were granted permission to work here as one of the first European countries as soon as the joined EU several years ago. Btw, it was very interesting discussion, Father.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Bloggers have made some good points that we can become overly romantic in respect of the "bad old days" of the pre-Vatican II Church.

I know that there were ethnic tensions even within Catholicism. Gerard Manley Hopkins found 19th Century Irish nationalism impossible when he taught in Dublin. Newman had his own problems there ...

Throughout the 19th and 20 centuries there have been "Oirish" parishes in the UK and the indigenous population would often feel isolated in such parishes especially when Irish priests seemed to affirm the Irish identity.

There are no easy answers. I went to a Polish Church last night for Mass at 7pm (church half-full of young people on a miserable night in a parish where there had been two other Masses that day) and it is hard not to be impressed by the piety (and the silence!).

If I were a Pole, would I swap that for a local "English" parish? No contest!

gemoftheocean said...

Jay, yes, I would say our experience in America with the Poles is very good. As a rule of thumb very devout. And it's great that you speak English so well. I think where resentment can come in, is not so much that people retain the Polish language (or ANY other language) but if that first generation or subsequent doesn't even try to speak English. (It will probably never be perfect, but that's okay.)

At the risk of offending many illegal aliens and their supporters camping out in my own country the BIGGEST problem comes from the SPANISH speakers. So many of them have jumpted across the damn border with congress not seeming to give a damn because the cretinous Democrats want illegal aliens to vote so they have more people to give money to from their "victim" status, and the Republicans because they want cheap labor undercutting the legitimate cost of goods and services. Illegal aliens have RUINED many blue collar jobs from paying a living wage. Ditto they've hurt the native black youths, in particular in jobless rates. "Well, no white person would take that job, no black person would take the job." Like hell they wouldn't if it wasn't paid under the table with no taxes being taken out.

Unless I miss my guess, the vibe I'm picking up is that though the Poles (I think most of them with legal status due to the EU?) may have a right to be in England, through whatever the EU has thrust (if that's the right word) upon them, the English at pains to complain out loud and would tend to let resentment smoulder more than an American would. That's just a national character tendency. In other words, just because the English don't necessarily say anything's wrong... there might well be.

In America, ash trays would have been throw years ago ... differences hammered out, and then those two groups would have melded together to band against the THIRD new group, which was being perceived as "not getting with the program." ;-D

It might well be possible that some of Father Blake's parishioners are feeling:

"Who the hell's country is this?"

I expect, perhaps if there are Polish speaking people there who are perceived as NOT making an effort to learn English resentment can easily come in. I was absolutely FLOORED when Father Blake says they've been virtually camping out in his parish since WWII. ALMOST 70 YEARS!!! 70 YEARS. In the US in 70 years in the US the grandchildren of a Polish immigrant would likely have at very least two or MORE ethnic backgrounds among their grandchildren. But the difference here is that in the past immigrants came to BE AMERICAN. In other words, for what ever reason...much as they loved "the old country" there was something wrong with it or they wouldn't have left it in the first place!

The UK must not be that bad of a country if you've been there that long!

BIG kudos to Francis for also pointing out to the blind emperors (WAY too many bishops in the US and the UK) that just because you have a vernacular Mass doesn't mean it has to be implemented like the ritual from Hades. That's one thing they probably ARE afraid to get "called on" by the example of the Polish church.

Oh, and the Poles might do a lot of English crafters some favors by offering a few classes in the fine art of pysanky making at Easter time. Fr. Blake, if your Polish people start giving you highly decorated hand painted eggs you have *arrived*. If your ENGLISH people start doing the same, then you'll know the Poles are passing on some nice customs. Blessing those Easter Baskets aren't going to hurt your English speakers.

Seriously Jay, you couldn't do newcomers any BETTER favor than urging them to learn English ASAP.
The quicker the Poles learn English, the LESS friction and hurt feelings all around.

And yes, as long as Fr. Ray isn't a "pioneer" he could probably score some good Vodka, with an extended invitation to the Polish chaplain for "vespers."

Karen