About the Five
How was the oratory in Poznań like?
The group counted up to 310 boys, what simultaneously decreased the number of little urchins hanging around in Poznań – at Wroniecka Street where the oratory was, they found care, fun and entertainment they needed. In their free time they went on cycle trips, played soldiers games and many others. During their summer holiday camps in the country, they organised bonfires for the local community there. They sung religious songs learnt in the oratory at Sunday's messes , even in four parts, and helped farmers during the harvest. Also a theatre group and a boys choir functioned very well. The heart and soul of performances were the boys, which later constituted „the Five from Poznań”:
Czesław attended to the oratory since he was 10.
Edward Kaźmierski signed in when he was in a primary school. He wrote about the oratory in his diary: „Actually I have two homes – one at Łąkowa Street and the other at Wroniecka 9. It's hard to say, where I spend more time. Today, for example, I was at Wroniecka three times: first in the moring, then in the afternoon, when I went to confession and in the evening at the meeting of the Society of Saint John Bosco. I must admit that Salesians take care not only of our souls, but also of our bodies.
Franciszek joined the oratory when he was 13. He liked going there to play and pray with his friends.
Edward Klinik was also in primary school when he signed in to the oratory. Hr found there joy and peace.
Jarogniew was 10 when he entered the oratory for the first time. Then it became his second home. He had there a good time, went on trips or camps and took part in sports competitions.
Don Bosco always put great impact on shaping faith and piety in his pupils. The Salesians from Wroniecka passed his heritage to groups of boys gathering in the oratory. The most zealous of them formed societies like The Society of the Blessed Sacrament, The Society of Immaculate Mary, The Society of St. John Bosco or the Mission Society, as well as a choir. They organised celebrations, evening meetings, prepared liturgy for Easter or Christmas and other holidays. Encouraged by their fatherly friends to frequent going to confession and taking communion, boys shaped their characters for the future adult life. Franciszek wanted to become a Salesian, but the war made it impossible.
„The Five” was a group of outstanding liturgical animators. Despite growing terror in occupied city and mass arresting, they still gathered in the oratory and sung in a choir during a mass. When the church and the oratory at Wroniecka were closed by occupants, they moved to another district and sung with other choristers in other Poznań churches. It became the direct cause of their being arrested.
Testimonies from the prison clearly state that their faith shaped in the Oratory was the only help and support to them in the forthcoming events.
They bravely practised their faith, not paying attention to difficulties and sufferings it caused. Pious prayer and singing of religious songs cheered them up. They wrote down from memory litanies and novenas in order to prepare themselves for Christmas and Easter in the way they did it in the Oratory. The fact that they could go to confession and take communion was the greatest happiness to them. It gave them the confidence that God was taking them to heaven.
Under protection of Mary, Help of Christians
Fervent devotion to Mary, Help of Christians, revered in the church at Wroniecka, was characteristic of the Five. When they were 16, Czesław and Edward Kaźmierski went on their own on a pilgrimage to Częstochowa. They wanted to thank God for school graduation and ask Him to lead them in their further life. From prison Franciszek sent back to his family his greatest treasure, the rosary on which prayed his mother until she died. During the first body search Gestapo officer took away Jarogniew's rosary and threw it into the dustbin. In the moment of warder's inattention the boy took it out, risking extra tortures. The rosary was taken away from him again in Spandau, so he prayed on a rosary made of bread. In October the Five organised for other prisoners a common prayer on rosary as it was in the oratory.
The fact that they were to die on 24 August was for them a clear sign of protection of Mary, Help of Christians. “The day to say goodbye came and it is 24 August, the day of Holy Mary,” they wrote.
„In our oratory there's a match after match” - shaping of characters through sports activities.
On a small courtyard at Wroniecka Street often over 60 boys played football and other games. Also four ping pong tables and a billiard table were available. This wide choice of games attracted many young people.
Coming back to the Five, before they became animators of sports life in the oratory Edward Kaźmierski wrote in his diary: “In the oratory there is match after match. Ping pong balls whiz in the air like white swallows. I'm not boasting, but we're quite good in it. In the matches we played in January we crushed all other players.”
'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' Acts 20:35
Each of the Five acquainted himself with oratory in the primary school. Further education in the secondary school or work didn't weaken this contact. As frequently as the could, they visited Wroniecka not only to take part in plays, games and services, but also to organise and conduct them. The history of Valdocco, where the boys from the oratory became the first Salesians, repeated itself. Strengthened in faith, fascinated by Don Bosco and having authority among younger boys, they become animators of religious, cultural and sports life in the oratory.
(1919 - 1942)
- He had five sisters.
- At the age of 4, he lost his father, and therefore he was raised in poor material conditions.
- He was small, lively and impulsive.
- When he was a student, he was doing a casual job to help the family.
- Talented in music. Thanks to the Salesians he learnt to play the piano, the accordion and the violin. He also sung solo parts in a choir and wanted to become an organist.
- In the oratory he was called “a composer”.
- He liked going to the theatre, to the opera or to the cinema. He also appeared in theatre performances staged in the oratory and other places in Poznań.
- He was passionately fond of sport and sports games.
- He wanted to have a family. Therefore, he prayed for his future wife.
- During occupation he kept working as an apprentice in a metalworking shop.
- Arrested at the age of 20.
- In prison he was liked even by ordinary criminals.
- He treated his mother and sisters with much love.