In memory of the priest who helped them realize their potential, a group of homeless men in Poland are building a ship that they plan to sail around the world.
Where most people simply saw a group of homeless men with no chances for their future, Boguslaw Paleczny, a Roman Catholic priest from Poland, saw men with unrealized potential beyond their imaginations. Every day, he would talk with the residents of the homeless shelter he set up in Warsaw, asking them about their goals and plans for the future. But he soon realized that none of the men felt like they had anything to live for.
“If you asked them what they’ll be doing in a year, they have no idea,” Adriana Porowska, a social worker who now runs the shelter, told The New York Times.
So, three years ago, while Father Paleczny was in the hospital recovering from tuberculosis, he was inspired by a conversation with a sailor in the next bed: he would help the homeless men in his shelter build a ship. Then, after the boat had been completed, he would sail around the world with them.
Father Paleczny convinced a shipbuilder to donate plans for the boat’s creation, and soon, the shelter residents were excited about the prospect of their great adventure. The priest talked up the project with local community members, and received many cheap or donated building materials. But once the project was in full swing, Father Paleczny’s health took a turn for the worse. He passed away in June.
Even so, the 24 members of the homeless shelter are committed to seeing Father Palecnzy’s dream come true. Every day, they spend countless hours building and welding the ship into seaworthy shape. Once the vessel is complete, 12 men, including a professional captain, will set sail and embark on a voyage that will take them on a journey spanning thousands of miles, likely taking a year to complete.
The ship will bear the name of Father Paleczny, who made this mission possible.
“It will be all the more beautiful when it’s on the seas,” said Slawomir Michalski, one of the ship’s welders, “and the sails are up, and it’s been christened on its maiden voyage, and it carries his name around the world.”