Special Celebrations For John Paul II

By on April 30, 2014
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In Detroit and Washington, D.C.

ORCHARD LAKE, Michigan–  The big screen in the front of the Shrine Chapel sacristy on the campus of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High School showcased the event impressively.  The video pictures beamed from Rome presented St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican filled with over a half million well-wishers, many Polish pilgrims.

At Orchard Lake, some came at 4:00 a.m.  Most concluded the morning at about sunrise by having a coffee and custard dessert tasting (kewamowki) in the St. Mary’s Prep Dining Hall.  A Catholic Mass in Polish was celebrated by Fr. Pawel Lis and a traditional Mass in English was celebrated by Fr. Leonard Obloy.  Electronic media outlets from Metro Detroit were asking church goers what the ceremonies meant to them.  All in all, the canonization program televised from Rome for St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII was rewarding and enriching.

Pope Francis read their names into the Book of Saints.  Following the Gospel reading, the Holy Father spoke a homily in which he defined St. John XXIII as “the Pope of openness to the Holy Spirit”, and St. John Paul II as “the Pope of the Family.”  Pope Francis said that, “at the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.”

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit sent a celebratory message to be read at all Detroit diocese parishes during Sunday services.

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  In related news, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opened the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington D.C.  It is at the site of the former John Paul II Cultural Center.  The location celebrated its opening when Pope Francis, canonized the newly recognized Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII.

The center, which first opened in 2001 as an art, cultural and event facility, was named for the pope.  It was originally financed by the Archdiocese of Detroit under the direction of Cardinal Adam Maida.  The facility has a research component, museum and gallery and is located on 12 acres in Washington D.C. near the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The Knights of Columbus organization took ownership of the venue in 2011.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington said, “Pope John Paul visited Washington and was an important force for good in America, so we are particularly honored to have this saint’s national shrine here and to be one of the first places of worship in the world to bear his name,” said Cardinal Wuerl.  “In its three years as a local shrine, it has also become a place of pilgrimage and prayer, attracting people from far beyond this city.”

A centerpiece of the shrine will be a relic consisting of a vial of Blessed John Paul II’s blood.  The Knights of Columbus received it from Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, the longtime friend and secretary to the late pontiff.

Executive director, Patrick Kelly, said the shrine will be the premier U.S. site dedicated to St. John Paul II.  “We are grateful that the U.S. bishops have elevated our status to a national shrine and we look forward to welcoming pilgrims to this place of prayer,” he said in a written statement.  “It is dedicated to a great saint who bore courageous witness to the love of God and dignity of the human person.”

By Raymond Rolak