The background story goes back as far as to World War II and the imprisonment of a young seminarian, Kazimierz Majdański, with a group of other Polish clerics and priests in the Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Germany.
It was there where at the end of the war Majdański and those from the group who survived entrusted themselves entirely to St. Joseph. When they were pleading for a rescue from the camp, they made a vow to create a Work of Mercy and to take a special care for families if they survived. This mission filled the life of later a priest and then bishop and archbishop Kazimierz Majdański. Both his scientific and pastoral work in Poland and abroad was becoming increasingly focused on the family.
He founded several instututions (some of them together with a Polish medical doctor, Monika Wójcik) to serve the family. One of them was the Institute (and later Faculty) for Studies on the Family in 1975—part of the Catholic University, later named Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, after the famous Polish Primate of the communist era. In 1986 he founded the Secular Institute of Consecrated Life of the Holy Family, consisting to this day of priests and lay consecrated men and women. The statutes of this new Community were presented to St. John Paul II and gained full papal approval and blessing, thus crowning the effort of Archbishop Majdański’s life to create an environment (both intellectual and spiritual) that offers human and religious formation to parents and children.
The Institute offers year-round days of prayer and reflection in its multiple centers in Poland. It also organizes summer retreats in its house on Wolin Island, with a program designed for entire families. It includes education through arts, crafts and adventure for the children—to give the parents time for their own retreat activities—and ends with a great knight tournament using historic garments.
The Family Support Foundation was started in 1997 by the Institute of the Holy Family as part of the Institute’s mission to serve the family. It was founded by Archbishop Majdański, Dr. Monika Wójcik and Fr. Jarosław Szymczak (a member of the Institute, lecturer at the Faculty and co-author of the Foundation’s Love and Life Programs).