Ks. Piotr Wawrzyniak
It's summer - a year 1872. A young vicar comes to the small town of Śrem, pcs. Piotr Wawrzyniak. High in growth, with a broad face and thick features, on which the spirituality is painted. All his posture expresses inner peace and equanimity. He found himself in Śrem among peasants and a small group of small bourgeoisie. He sees their poverty and helplessness. He found out, that among them, the Craft Society and the Savings Bank - institutions so meritorious for economic development during the partitions. In this situation, he immediately realized, what task awaits him. In the whirlpool of priestly work, and he remembered it, to remedy this poverty as well. A year passed. Ks. Piotr was elected president of the Craft Association. He went to work with all his energy. He organized talks on all areas of social life, from economic issues, from history. He founded an evening school for craftsmen. He taught in it alone, sharing your messages. He enrolled among the local population as a priest, who taught anywhere and anytime, he taught others, and he was also still learning himself. He taught others this, which he himself could do so wonderfully : to combine work on earth with work for heaven.
His special merits in relation to the community focused on the development of "Economic and Profit Companies". He demanded of people, that they may come to prosperity in an honest way. God's commandments reminded them constantly : "Do not steal". He taught economy and economy. He reminded Poles in these hard times, that the property thus acquired should serve not only one man, but also the whole community. He recalled people's dedication to national goals. However, he always set an example with his own life, how you can serve others with your property, and not just yourself. People, who worked with him, he was still teaching, that in working together for the good of others, punctuality is essential, conscientiousness and veracity, which we so often miss. At first he found no understanding. Furthermore, his demands caused much discontent among the people, and even bitterness. Only after several years of persistent social and educational work, the attitude towards him slowly changed. The results of his efforts contributed to this, that everyone could see. The standard of living of the population has increased. Cooperative activity was one of the best measures in the situation at that time, to heal the economic situation and make up for neglect.
Father Wawrzyniak's activity fell on a difficult period in the history of the Polish nation. The possessive Prussian government wanted to destroy national identity at all costs, our language and manners. Ks. Wawrzyniak defended these values with the greatest stubbornness, because he realized, that the adherence to the Polish language and culture determines resistance to the attempts of the enemies of the Motherland. In social work, he had the gift of winning others for his views. He did it very delicately. He did not impose his opinion on anyone. He just wanted, that everyone should join the work for the good of the Motherland, who was in captivity. He wanted, that by this they "make the land subdued", as God commanded them.
The sudden death of Fr.. Peter in 1910 r. it did not put an end to the development of cooperatives. His successors took up his work, which he had previously prepared for this.
Why Fr.. Wawrzyniak could do so much in his life ? This question can be answered like this :
…..Because he had remarkable mobility, organizational dynamics and physical strength, which has been inexhaustible for many years. It was as if some kind of internal motor operated in it, constantly generating a wealth of ideas and the ability to implement them with the simplest possible means ".
That engine was God, whom he always wanted to serve faithfully. He sacrificed his life for Him. He knew how to see Him and serve Him in his neighbors.