St. John Paul II the Great – My Hero

Posted by on Apr 27, 2014 in Featured, News | 0 comments

St. John Paul II the Great – My Hero

As a teenager, I never thought that I would witness such an amazing place in the history of the church and the world. On October 16, 1978, the communist propaganda television program was interrupted. At 6 pm, I heard that John Paul had suddenly died and I saw a mighty church (then I did not know it was St. Peter’s Basilica). The news continued with the naming of the new Pope – it was Poland’s Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. We were in shock. Suddenly I heard the church bells ringing. Joy and hope dawned in our hearts – I will, we will, be free. I remember well the words of one of the religious order sisters, “It will be an end of the world.” It was not the end of the world, but a beginning of an era. Less than a year after John Paul II’s election, he made his first pilgrimage to Poland in 1979 as Pope. My Polish language teacher, frightened of the communist authorities, closed the classroom door as we secretly, eagerly and quietly watched John Paul II’s arrival and travels. Even though we were in a great conspiracy against the authorities, we did not want to stop watching or listening. Everything looked so beautiful and unimaginable. His teachings, his sermons, the meetings with the people, all gave us a great promise for the better. He gave us something I cannot fully explain – a spirit of hope that better times will come. The most beautiful speech that had an incredible impression on me was held in Victory Square when John Paul II uttered a very important prayer: “And I cry, I who am  son of the land of Poland, and who am also Pope John Paul II, I cry from all the depths of this Millennium, I cry on the vigil of Pentecost: Let Your Spirit descend. Let Your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land.” I often thought about John Paul II’s words and prayers and what they meant for us, and especially for me. We had to wait a long time for the fulfillment of those words. At the time of his speech, the words were a prophecy of a nation, a nation oppressed by the communist government of the Soviet Union. Fulfillment took place ten years later in 1989, when we obtained freedom. Through the years and on many occasions, I have personally listened to his homilies or participated with others in the World Youth Day that John Paul II started in Czestochowa, Rome and Paris. In 1986, I entered the seminary to discern God’s will, to discern the Spirit for the service of God and men. While in the seminary, I had another experience of meeting with the Pope during the beatification of St. Kozkowny Carolina – a Polish teenager who was beatified as a virgin – martyr and known as the “Maria Goretti” of Poland. Hearing his words, especially in our native Polish language was inspiring. John Paul II always amazed me by the way he seized, displayed, and shared his love for Christ through genuine love for all people and his enormous devotion to the Church. He truly led us by his example. As a priest and even before my ordination, I have had a most beautiful model of the priesthood in John Paul II. He  simply is my hero. I believe it was the great influence of John Paul II that has guided me throughout the years. I am so happy that on this Divine Mercy Sunday, a devotion he initiated, the Church proclaims him as a Saint for all of us. St. John Paul II, pray for us. Fr. Jacek

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