November 18, 2016 / 5:12 PM / 4 years ago

With customized Fiat, Polish priest offers spiritual emergency service

BOLESLAWOW, Poland (Reuters) - In his small black Fiat 126 equipped with a blinking roof light shaped like a priest’s bireta cap, Father Krzysztof Kauf zaps down the winding mountain road to answer his next call for assistance.

The Polish Catholic priest wants to be close to his parishioners, even if it means driving the tiny car up and down steep roads at any time of day or night.

Kauf recently founded a spiritual emergency hotline for his parishioners in the small southern village of Boleslawow in southern Poland with the aim of helping those in need.

“(People) need the presence of a priest, who will not be locked up inside a church rectory or in the office, but who will accompany them in everyday life, in the everyday life that today is sometimes difficult and hard,” he told Reuters.

The priest says he has received calls at all sorts of hours, usually from residents asking for help in resolving family disputes, but also to provide comfort in cases of loss.

“In case of a tragedy there is not much to say, but you have to be with the person,” he said. “People need it because words cannot express everything as well as the presence of a priest, especially in difficult situations, when you are with them when they need this support.”

The small village counts a few hundred residents, some of whom helped Kauf customize the Fiat which advertises its “pastoral emergency” services.

Kauf, who hopes to build a facility where people can come to receive long-term spiritual support, says the small community’s calls do not keep him busy all day and night, but jokes he now knows the names of every villager as well as their pets’.

Reporting By Reuters Television Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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