Coming from Poland, a relic of a beloved pope

Drops of blood in a small vial — a relic of Blessed Pope John Paul II – soon will be enshrined in St. Joseph’s Church, 10th and Mechanic streets, in South Camden.

The relic will be brought from Poland by Father Pawel W. Kryszkiewicz, pastor, when he returns Oct. 5 from an annual retreat.

A “rite of introduction” of the relic will take place during the parish’s 120th anniversary Mass, Sunday, Oct. 21, at 10:30 a.m. The relic is to be presented to Father Kryszkiewicz by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow. While a monsignor, the cardinal had been secretary to Pope John Paul II.

The drops of blood, from the body of a holy person, constitute a first-class relic. Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, was beatified May 1, 2011.

To acquire the relic for St. Joseph’s, Father Kryszkiewicz enlisted the aid of a family friend, Father Eustachy Rakoczy, a Pauline monk from the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland. “We are from the same town in northern Poland; I am grateful for his assistance.”

Father Kryszkiewicz made a formal request by letter in June and was notified in August that approval had been granted by Cardinal Dziwisz.

In his letter he noted that St. Joseph’s is the only Polish parish in the Diocese of Camden. “The people have a strong connection and pride in their heritage and culture,” he said.

The church displays a bronze bust and a large portrait of Blessed Pope John Paul II. After Sunday Mass, parishioners pray for his canonization. When the relic is in place “the word will spread that people can come and venerate it at St. Joseph’s. Through this relic, Blessed John Paul will still be present to influence the people of the city and the diocese,” Father Kryszkiewicz said.

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