Honoring Blessed Pope John Paul II far from Rome



Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

Above left, Father Pawel W. Kryszkiewicz, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Camden, walks past a portrait of Blessed Pope John Paul II on May 1. At right, first grader Adam Bedford leads a line of students from John Paul II Regional School, Stratford, leaving yellow and white flowers at the altar in honor of the beatification of Pope John Paul II on May 1.

On Sunday, May 1, an estimated 1 million Catholics gathered in Rome to celebrate the beatification of Pope John Paul II, the next-to-last step on the way to sainthood.

In the Camden Diocese, those who couldn’t be in Rome marked the day, which also happened to be Divine Mercy Sunday, with special Masses and television viewings of the beatification.

At the Provincialate-Novitiate of the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Cherry Hill, the 50 sisters on retreat watched the early morning beatification for John Paul II, a native of Poland, where the Little Servant Sisters’ order was founded. The place was also adorned with pictures of John Paul II, and items blessed by him. Some of the sisters had the opportunity to meet John Paul II in the past, and the superior of the Cherry Hill Provincialate, Mother M. Jadwiga Cierpinska, was currently in Rome.

Watching the beatification “was an indescribable experience,” said Sister M. Philomena. “Our hearts were uplifted with joy and gratitude.”

At St. Joseph Church in Camden, the predominantly Polish congregation remembered the beatification with prayers for John Paul II’s canonization, and watched a film in the church on his life and his nine-day pilgrimage to Poland in 1979, “Nine Days That Changed The World.”

Worshippers could leave petitions to John Paul II on the altar, and the winners of an essay contest focused on the newly-Blessed, sponsored by the parish and open to schools in the Camden Diocese, were announced. First place, and $200, went to Aliany Batista, of St. Anthony of Padua in Camden, and second place, and $100, went to Maddie King of Christ the King, Haddonfield.

At Our Lady of Guadalupe, Stratford Campus, 22 students from John Paul II Regional School, Stratford took part in a 5 p.m. Mass honoring John Paul II.

During the entrance procession, students left yellow and white flowers at the altar, underneath a portrait of John Paul II. Five hundred people attended the Mass and the reception afterward.

Calling the Mass “hugely important” for the school students, Our Lady of Guadalupe pastor Father Joseph Capella, added that it was “important for the students to identify with Pope John Paul II” and his message, one that emphasized the importance of youth in the Catholic Church.