"Only A Suffering God Can Help:" An evening of reflection on suffering and faith featuring the award winning documentary The Labyrinth

Wed, 2013-03-06 19:30 - 21:30

An evening of reflection on suffering and faith featuring the 2012 Golden Eagle Cine Award winning documentary The Labyrinth. The film depicts the remembrance of suffering by the Polish Catholic artist Marian Koloziej, an Auschwitz survivor. The film will be presented by the producer Fr. Ron Schmidt S.J. with further commentary and reflection by Fr. John Pawlikowski of Catholic Theological Union, Chicago and Dr. David Novak, Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Toronto.

This event is sponsored by the Adam Mickiewicz Foundation and the Polish Consulate, and hosted by Regis College.

Program, beginning at 7:30pm

Presentation by Produce, Fr. Ron Schmidt, S.J.
Screening of The Labyrinth
Reflections by Fr. John Pawlikowski and Dr. David Novak
Response by Fr. Ron Schmidt, S.J.
Questions from the Audience

Youth Symposium, Tuesday March 5, 2013, 12:15pm to 2:15pm

Ron Schmidt and Marina Nemat (http://www.marinanemat.com/) will join a youth panel and students from area schools to reflect on the themes of faith and social justice raised by the film. The format will follow the usual Regis College youth symposium model (adopted from the Thomas Moore Institute in Montreal), which focuses, in this instance, on a one page selection of four or five quotes taken from the transcript of the film. One of the youth panelists will read one of the quotes and offer an initial comment or question for the other panelists to address. The conversation then opens up to exchange with the larger audience. The process is repeated with each of the quotes. The text remains the “expert” and everyone asks “what can I learn from the quote?” The resource people are careful to take no more than their turn but add some depth to the conversation. This approach promotes active engagement and peer leadership among the youth.

Area high schools are invited to send delegations of 4-8 students accompanied by a teacher. For further information, please contact inquiries@regiscollege.ca .

Youth Symposium Registration

Please register by supply the teacher(s) name, the name of the school and the number of student delegates at the Youth Symposium Registration Link; please click here.

About The Layrinth

Memory, art, love, and hell collide as an Auschwitz survivor finally confronts the horrors of his past after 50 years of silence.

“I built Auschwitz because I arrived there in the first transport. It was also true that for almost fifty years I did not speak about Auschwitz. But nevertheless throughout that whole time Auschwitz was present in everything I did.” -Marian Kolodziej

Marian Kolodziej was on one of the first transports to enter Auschwitz. He was given number 432. He survived and never spoke of his experience for 50 years. After a serious stroke in 1993, he began rehabilitation by doing pen and ink drawings depicting the experiences he and others endured in the concentration camp. These drawings, in their skeletal detail, are a gripping depiction of the pain, death, and horrors of the camp. While most of the drawings represent the memories of a young man’s hellish experiences in Auschwitz, some tell stories of small acts of kindness and dignity.

Marian’s story of survival, of persistence, of life before, during, and after Auschwitz are a testament to the human spirit. Marian’s drawings and art installations, which he called The Labyrinth, fill the large basement of a church near Auschwitz and draw visitors into the horrific reality of the holocaust.

'This is not an exhibition, nor art. These are not pictures. These are words locked in drawings…I propose a journey by way of this labyrinth marked by the experience of the fabric of death…It is a rendering of honor to all those who have vanished in ashes.' -Marian Kolodziej

In The Labyrinth, Marian takes the audience on a journey through his drawings and art installations. Through the blending of his testimony and the graphic drawings, we explore the memories and nightmares of a man, who like so many others buried experiences deep within. Why would a confrontation with death late in life, trigger the need to record his long-suppressed memories? And why in this graphic, metaphorical way? This documentary raises these questions in a visually stunning way.

Marian was in the same roll call and cell block as Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, who voluntarily took the place of a prisoner condemned to death and was subsequently executed. This self-less act became legendary in Auschwitz and inspired the entire camp---somehow an act of love and courage stood as a testament to good in the face of overwhelming evil. Marian’s numerous drawings of Kolbe are stark and iconographic. Kolbe is now a saint in the Catholic Church.

This is eyewitness testimony that is unique in the annals of documenting the Holocaust. Marian is a Polish Catholic, who has used his drawings to give testimony to the horrors of Auschwitz and of the world today, and whose body of work provides a testament to suffering and ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’

The documentary will be presented by Ron Schmidt, S.J., a producer and writer of the film. Following the screening of the 37 minute documentary, Ron Schmidt, S.J. will be joined by Professors John Pawlikowski (Chicago Theological Union) and David Novak (University of Toronto) to explore the significance of the film.

For more information about the documentary, please click here.

About Ron Schmidt, S.J.

Fr. Ron Schmidt is a Jesuit priest and award-winning international documentary filmmaker whose films include: The Labyrinth: The Testimony of Marian Kolodziej, an internationally award winning documentary, that has been in 21 film festivals, won 10 awards and is scheduled to start airing on PBS stations in April, 2013; Franz Jägerstätter: A Man of Conscience, a short documentary that won the Redemptive Storytelling Award; In Spite of Darkness, a film on the annual non-denominational Auschwitz Retreat; as well as numerous other documentaries. Two of his films were awarded Silver Telly’s for best in their categories and all three films have secured international distribution.

Schmidt was producer of the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals annual Gabriel Awards in Los Angeles and he has co-produced the Film Showcase at the L.A. Religious Education Congress. After receiving the Silver Telly Awards, he was selected to be a judge for the Telly Awards. He is a script reader for the Humanitas Prize, as well as a chair of the Gabriel Awards Documentary Jury. He gives film seminars and film retreats. Schmidt, along with his director son, Jason, is partnered in December 2 Productions to develop and produce documentaries.

Ron comes from a long line of filmmakers - his father is the distinguished film editor Arthur P. Schmidt, best known for editing such classic films as Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, Sabrina and Sayonara. His brother is Arthur Schmidt, Academy Award winning Film Editor, for Forrest Gump and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?


Regis College is the Jesuit School of Theology at the University of Toronto and a Founding Member of the Toronto School of Theology.

Members of the public interested in theological education are invited to attend an open house in October and March each year.

Registration for the Labyrinth

"The Labyrinth: The Testimony of Marian Kolodziej" will screen at Regis College on Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 at 7:30pm.

This event is free. All are welcome. Screening will take place in St. Joseph Chapel, Regis College. Seating is limited. Please pre-register by clicking here or calling 416-922-5474 x221.

Regis College is located at 100 Wellesley Street West, Toronto, near the corner of Queen's Park Crescent East. Regis College is on the 94 Wellesley bus route and a short walk (south) from the Museum subway station. Public parking is available in the University of St. Michael's College parking lot on St. Joseph Street, one block north of Regis College. The venue is accessible.