Lemont Residents Await Beatification of Pope John Paul II
The late pope will take a step on the road to sainthood with a special ceremony Sunday in Rome.
Many parishioners of SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Lemont are in Rome this week where they will stand in St. Peter’s Square to witness the beatification of their beloved Pope John Paul II.
Back home, parishioners and all Lemont residents can attend a special Saturday mass, vigil and procession at the church, 607 Sobieski St., starting at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, a concert dedicated to Pope John Paul II begins in the church at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.
Poles naturally have a special affinity for the Polish-born pontiff, but he earned the love and respect of people worldwide during his 26-year papacy. He was the most widely traveled pontiff and visited more than 120 countries.
“It doesn’t matter that the pope was Polish, he was the pope for all Catholics around the world,” said Krystyna Daszynski, owner of Adam’s Flowers, 315 Illinois St.
Her floral arrangements will decorate two shrines inside SS. Cyril and Methodius Church this weekend. Red and white flowers, the colors of the Polish flag, are for Matka Boska Częstochowa (Poland’s holiest icon), and yellow and white, the Vatican colors, are for Pope John Paul II.
The weekly bulletin at St. Patrick’s Church, 200 Illinois St., will include Pastor Kurt Boras’ recollection of seeing the pope at Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago. When the pope, who arrived in a helicopter, was given a soccer ball as a gift, he dropped it to the ground and kicked it.
Daszynski vividly remembers the day when the world learned the identity of the new pope after the death of the first Pope John Paul.
“I was at work [in Poland] and everyone was listening to the radio,” she said. “When we heard the name Karol Wojtyla, everyone was happy, crying and jumping. I will never forget that date — Oct. 16, 1978,” Daszynski said.
A year later, Karol Wojtyla, who took the name John Paul II, returned to his homeland.
“He knelt and kissed the ground, and we all cried,” Daszynski recalled.
Poland was a Communist state at the time, but the government did not interfere with his visit.
“Even the Communists respected him — the first non-Italian pope in 460 years,” Daszynski said proudly.
Years later, Father Marcin Szczypula, a priest at SS. Cyril and Methodius, attended the same seminary in Krakow, Poland, as the pope had.
“Every time I entered the building, there was a powerful feeling,” Father Szczypula said.
In the lobby, a flag bore the message that Pope John Paul II had been a seminarian there. “I felt very special to have shared that experience with him,” he said.
On the grounds of SS. Cyril and Methodius is a large grotto with a statue of the pope kneeling and praying to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
In 2008, one of the pope’s two personal secretaries, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, came to Lemont to bless the shrine. Later, the other personal secretary traveled to Lemont to consecrate the altar, where outdoor masses are sometimes said.
The Saturday Polish school at the parish is named for Pope John Paul II.
Beatification is a step toward sainthood in the Catholic Church.
The Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, whose Lady of Victory convent is in Lemont, pray for the beatification of their founder, Mother Mary Theresa Dudzik.
Beatification requires proof of a miracle. Pope John Paul II is believed to have cured a religious sister of Parkinson’s disease.
“I feel he was a saint from the very beginning,” Daszynski said.
Indeed, many people worldwide consider the pope a saint already. Soon after Pope John Paul II died in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI waived the five-year waiting period for opening a case for beatification.
Renata Teper, a Lemont Public Library librarian and a parishioner at SS. Cyril and Methodius, offered her reflection on the beatification:
“I think each of us has our own picture of John Paul II — either because we met him or have been in places he would be in — or we remember so vividly some of his gestures and his words, like those he said in 2002 when leaving Poland for Rome: ‘I would like to say “See you again,” but it’s all in God’s hands.’ Now I believe his beatification brings him even closer to us.”
Live TV coverage of the proceedings in Rome can be seen on EWTN, Global Catholic Network (channel 119 on Comcast cable in Lemont).
A vigil in Rome will be shown starting at 12:30 p.m. Saturday; the beatification of Pope John Paul II will begin at 1:30 a.m. Sunday; a mass of thanksgiving will be shown beginning at 3:30 a.m. Monday.
Cable networks Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC are scheduled to start live coverage of the beatification and mass at 3 a.m. Sunday.