The ongoing global impact of St. John Paul II was apparent through the more than 1,000 faithful who prayed in the pews at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on April 28 during the annual St. Pope John Paul II Tribute Mass, this year in commemoration of the fifth anniversary of his canonization.
April 27 was the actual anniversary of John Paul’s canonization as a saint of the Church. April 2 marked the 14th anniversary of his death on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005. Oct. 16 commemorates the 41st anniversary of his election to the papacy. His feast is Oct. 22.
Cardinal Dolan offered the 7 p.m. cathedral Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday. Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Witold Mroziewski was a principal concelebrant.
The liturgy was sponsored by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York and the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult Outreach.
Cardinal Dolan, in his homily, referenced St. John Paul II’s address to the world in his inaugural homily from St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Oct. 22, 1978. “Do not be afraid. Jesus, I trust in Thee.
“It’s the greatest lesson to all of us,” the cardinal said. “Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept His power. Do not be afraid to open wide the doors for Christ. Do not be afraid of Christ’s saving power. Do not be afraid. Christ knows what is in man. He alone knows it.”
Also in attendance were Consul General of the Republic of Poland Maciej Golubiewski and Polish Ambassador to the U.S. Piotr Wilczek.
“St. John Paul II was a great human being and a great pope because he embodied what was best in the Polish tradition and culture,” Golubiewski told CNY.
“By organizing this annual Mass, I wanted to show the world the man who also changed history by his attachment to what makes Poland strong today: freedom, the importance of the natural family, the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, and the uniquely old Polish republican tradition of tolerance and dialogue, especially towards Judaism and the Jews who, escaping persecution, made Poland their home for almost 1,000 years.”
The liturgy’s colorful procession featured banners from Polish schools, the Polish Army Veteran Association and Polish scouts. The vast Polish congregation was a testament to St. John Paul II’s Polish nationalism. Monica Romano, a first generation Polish-American who belongs to St. Casimir parish in Yonkers, grew up with a sense of pride knowing that Pope John Paul II was from the same native land as her parents.
St. John Paul’s II teachings are timeless, Mrs. Romano told CNY. “Pope John Paul’s II legacy continues to encourage families to live their life in a spiritual, compassionate, forgiving and kind manner. Pope John Paul showed compassion and forgiveness when he visited and pardoned the man who shot him; this must have taken so much strength and love to do such a beautiful and difficult thing like that. Pope John Paul II lived by his words and actions to inspire millions of Catholics worldwide.”
Colin Nykaza, director of Young Adult Outreach for the archdiocese, said to CNY, “This is one of the greatest days in the year, Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope John Paul recognized the importance of really helping young people to encounter Christ. This is why we put a lot of effort and resources into reaching out to young adults, and a lot of that comes from the heart of St. Pope John Paul II.”
After the liturgy, Msgr. Hilary Franco, a priest of the archdiocese and an adviser on the staff of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered a poignant lecture dedicated to St. John Paul II, reflecting upon time spent with him. He recounted stories of their mutual friend, the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a former auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese who was also national director of the Manhattan-based Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the United States.
Msgr. Franco recalled the first day after the conclave when Pope John Paul II was elected to lead the Church. Archbishop Sheen had pointed out to Msgr. Franco that Pope John Paul II was the first pope to come from adversity and that he would be able to relate to all. Msgr. Franco also read handwritten letters from Pope John Paul II which are classified now as relics. He called St. Pope John Paul II a man of action who is always in his heart and mind.