Catholics from all over the Diocese of Camden will set their alarm clocks to just before 2:30 a.m. this Sunday, as that is when the celebration in Rome begins for the beatification of John Paul II, the penultimate step to sainthood.
John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyla, was Pope from 1978-2005. Almost immediately after his death in April 2005, his followers called for “Santo Subito” (“Saint Now”) in recognition of his global witness to the Catholic faith.
Now, on Sunday, May 1, Pope Benedict XVI will beatify him, elevating him to the title of Blessed John Paul II.
May 1 is also the date of Divine Mercy Sunday, to which John Paul II had a particular devotion, and which was started after Jesus appeared to Maria Faustina Kowalska (now St. Faustina) between 1931 and 1935, and instructed her to begin the Divine Mercy devotion in the Catholic Church
Father Pawel Kryszkiewicz, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Camden, which has a faithful Polish community, said that his parish is looking forward to the ceremony for John Paul II, who was born in Wadowice, Poland on April 13, 1929.
“We are proud of his heritage,” he said. “We try to keep John Paul II’s legacy alive.”
After the 10:30 a.m. Sunday Mass, a projector and screen will be set up in the church for parishioners to watch a recording of the beatification. During the Mass, special prayers will also be said for John Paul II.
Sometime in the next few weeks, Father Kryszkiewicz said, St. Joseph’s will announce the winners of an essay contest for high school students in the Diocese of Camden, with John Paul II the main subject.
At the provincialate house and novitiate of the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Cherry Hill, the sisters have been praying daily for the beatification of John Paul II since his death.
Founded in 1850 in Podrzecze, Poland by Edmund Bojanowski, the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception have been committed to works of charity to youth, the sick, and the needy in Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States. In 1999, Pope John Paul II beatified Edmund Bojanowski.
Currently on their annual retreat in Cherry Hill, a group of Little Servant Sisters will finish their retreat on Divine Mercy Sunday. On the final day of the retreat, the retreat father will dedicate the entire day to John Paul II, in prayer and reflections on his life, virtues and accomplishments as a survivor of World War II, actor, poet, philosopher, theologian and pope.
While the Superior Provincial of the Cherry Hill Provincialate, Mother Jadwiga Cierpinska, goes to Rome to witness the beatification, the congregation in Cherry Hill will watch it on television, and pray for John Paul II and give thanks to God, during the Holy Mass and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with the Divine Mercy devotions and benediction.
In Stratford, families and students of John Paul II Regional School, and parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Lindenwold will honor their school’s namesake with a 5 p.m. Mass at St. Luke Church, followed by a reception in the John Paul II cafeteria.
Following is a list of some Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations in the Diocese of Camden
Christ the Redeemer Parish, Atco
2-3:30 p.m. Divine Mercy Sunday Holy Hour and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and sacrament of reconciliation; 3 p.m. novena and chaplet in song; 3:30 p.m. benediction and Mass of the Lord’s Supper
St. Michael Church, Atlantic City
3 p.m. singing of Divine Mercy Chaplet, with veneration of the Divine Mercy Image, and Litany of Divine Mercy and Mass. After 3 p.m. Mass: Rite of Benediction, and veneration of a first class relic of St. Faustina.
St. Joseph’s Church, Camden
After 10:30 a.m. Mass: Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament; 2-3 p.m. confessions, 3 p.m. Chaplet; 3:30 p.m. Solemn Mass
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Glassboro
1-3 p.m confession, Chaplet and procession; 3 p.m.: Mass
Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Linwood
2:30 p.m. Mass, Benediction and special prayers