The history of MAITRI Movement – how did it happen?

From its origin, the Movement of Solidarity with the Poor of the Third World MAITRI remains a federation of ordinary people’s communities working together to provide support to those living in indigent economic conditions of the developing world.

The beginnings

The year of 1975 marks the start of the first formation. It has been then set up by a student Jacek Wójcik who guided by the late father Bronisław Bozowski, stopped by the Missionaries of Charity Centre of Calcutta during his travels in India and decided to volunteer there, inspired by the journey of St. Mother Teresa and the work of her congregation. This was the foundation of the first group of the Movement.

Uczestnicy Ruchu MAITRI z Św. Matka Teresą w Kalkucie. Od lewej: Marek Oktaba, Alicja Misztal. Pierwsza z prawej: Danuta Szczepańska

The members of MAITRI Movement in Calcutta. From left: Marek Oktaba, Alicja Misztal. First from the right: Danuta Szczepańska

A few months later, in 1975/76 the “Students Third World Discussion Group” was founded at the Pauline Order Monastery located in Warsaw Old Town on 3 Długa Street and was officially approved by the Bishop of Warsaw. Only a year later, another group was formed in Bytom and at the beginning of 1978, one more in Gdańsk. In the 80’s there were already more than 30 groups up and running throughout Poland with over 300 members. The community started to grow, now under the name of “The Exchange and Reconciliation Movement” (the word “maitri” has been added over the time), and new formations were established in Slovakia and the Czech Republic (in here primarily due to an involvement of Wojciech Zięba from Gdańsk). At that time the main sources of support were aid packages sent to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. In 1990 the organization’s old name was replaced with new one: The Movement of Solidarity with the Poor of the Third World ‘Maitri’.

In the course of time, our movement focused on cooperation with Polish missionaries in India, South America, and Middle Africa. For many years members of Maitri also worked closely with the father Marian Żelazek SVD, who was taking care of people affected by leprosy in Puri, India.

The National Chaplains

One of the most prominent figures in the history of our organisation is the late father, Dr. Roman Forycki. He was nominated as the National Chaplain of Maitri in 1989 by the Episcopacy of Poland and was heavily involved, for over 20 years, in the development of the community and establishing its purpose and regulations. Under his supervision, the organization received its legal status in 2003. Another person worth mentioning is father Hubert Sklorz who was responsible for the spiritual growth of all our volunteers. The second National Chaplain function was performed by Father Jan Jacek Stefanów SVD between 2011 and 2016 and since 2017 by father, Dr. Andrzej Panasiuk.

People responsible

The top coordinators of MAITRI Movement were: Alicja Tybora (Kościerzyna), Weronika Musioł (Racibórz), Wojciech Zięba (Gdańsk), Dariusz Beczek (Lublin), Jacek Wójcik (Warsaw) and since 2011 – Weronika Musioł again.

Charity work

Since the beginning, participation in Maitri involves not only giving to those in need but also reflects the spiritual commitment of our volunteers. Within our establishment, we gather people from different backgrounds but also have some who studied theology. All the members of our community are extremely committed and use their skills and abilities, whenever they can, to make a change.
Our patrons are St. Francis and St. Mother Teresa. The bravery, trust in God and actions of Mother Teresa are especially our primary source of inspiration. Within 40 years of its existence, the MAITRI has become one of the biggest lay people projects run in close cooperation with the Catholic Church in Poland. Our charity work is a response to Jesus’s teachings: ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. For I was hungry, thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked, sick, in prison….’ (see Mt 25:34-40).
In the 1996 MAITRI began to provide aid to poor African children through “Have a Heart Adoption” sponsorship programme.

The children from Kengang a small village in Cameroon, sponsored by MAITRI

The children from Kengang a small village in Cameroon, sponsored by MAITRI

Parish Communities

Our organization is one of the founding members of the “Polish Council of Catholic Associations”. At the beginning of 2017, there were already 10 active parish communities in the following cities: Gdańsk, Białystok, Warsaw, Lublin, Bytom, Gliwice, Rybnik, Racibórz, Poznań, Wrocław. Each church community has its spiritual guide but also remains in touch with the Bishop of the local diocese. Also communities in Gdańsk and Bytom are regulated by law.

MAITRI Movement representatives with Fr Dr Roman Forycki at the Benedictines Monastery of Lubiń, Poland

The history of MAITRI Movement – how did it happen?

The logo

The logo of Maitri Movement


The history of MAITRI Movement – how did it happen?