Saturday, January 27, 2024
When Jesus appointed ordinary fishermen from Galilee: Peter, Andrew, James or John as Apostles, he told them that from now on they would fish for people. However, the Apostles never stopped being ordinary fishermen. The same is true today. Oblates called to fish people for the Kingdom of God, in their free time also do what the Apostles of those days did, that is, fishing, or more precisely, angling. In our Province, it has been a 31 year tradition that a group of enthusiasts go ice fishing every year.
One of the pioneers of this tradition, Fr. Janusz talked about the beginnings of his fishing adventure.
“My adventure began in 1988 in the fall in Winnipeg. Having a day off, I wanted to go outside the city to relax a bit from everyday life. I heard that in Canada many people fish because there are great conditions for it. My first experience with fishing was ice fishing. I liked it very much, I liked it incredibly quickly and from then on I started fishing on my days off both in winter and summer. An interesting story is connected with my beginnings. It took place a year later, in January, on a lake in Whiteshell Park, near the scout station. It was so cold that I started a campfire on the lake, roasted sausages and then two other anglers, young guys came to me to warm up and chat. When they found out that I was a priest they were very surprised. They did not expect to meet a priest with a fishing rod on the ice. But with that, a very interesting conversation was initiated. It turned out that one of them lived in an unregulated relationship and that his woman does not give him a break and keeps talking about marriage. And he started asking me about these things, what needs to be done to get married. I explained the whole process to him and it turned out that they had no obstacles. Six months later, their wedding took place at Holy Ghost Parish in Winnipeg. For me, it was very emotional. It started on the ice, during the usual ice fishing and ended with a small pastoral success.”
This was different for Fr. Paweł, who took his first steps with a fishing rod together with his grandfather. "My adventure began quite simply. During vacations spent at my grandparents' house, my cousin and I would go fishing on the river with my grandfather. Using a simple float and worm method, I caught my first fish, they were minnows. And so, from holiday fishing at my grandparents' house since elementary school age, my fishing enthusiasm continues to this day."
Such a community fishing trip in addition to the toil of fishing, it's also a time to pray together, build community, but also an opportunity for a little competition. When asked about his greatest successes, Fr. Janusz admits that he caught the largest freshwater fish in Muskoka and it was a Lake Trout that weighed more than 7 kg. However, even larger that that was a salmon he caught in the ocean, which weighed almost 16 kg.
Fishing is not just a way to spend free time. It shows that it can also contribute to pastoral work. Fr. Paweł confirms it. "Fishing helps me to relax and unwind from everyday life, to gain strength for the next pastoral challenges. Fishing has one important feature. It teaches patience. And patience is an important virtue in pastoral ministry, in dealing with people. To catch a fish you have to be patient, and likewise with people, to bring them to God you also have to do it patiently."
It should not surprise anyone that those who are called to fish for people also fish, after all, the Apostles did the same. Fr. Wojciech, although an occasional angler with few successes, is also very perceptive. On a recent ice fishing trip, he noticed an interesting parallel between fishing and the Gospel. "Jesus walked on water - we drove on it. We caught some fish - Jesus multiplied them. Fishermen are awesome but Jesus is the best!"