Local Catholics make trip to Rome for canonizations

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, May 4, 2014

Janine Duda of Chicago holds an image of St. John Paul II as she and other pilgrims from Polish parishes in the Chicago area gather in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 26. The following day, Sts. John Paul and John XXIII were canonized. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

When multitudes gathered in St. Peter Square and surrounding streets for the double canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, Chicago Catholics were in the mix, including dozens with Polish heritage.

Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Wypych led a pilgrimage sponsored by the Catholic League for Religious Assistance to Poland and Polonia. His group included 52 people, mostly Polish.

It was one of several pilgrimages that included Catholics from the archdiocese, including a group from St. John Brebeuf Parish in Niles and a group of 13 people sponsored by the archdiocese’s Young Adult Ministry Office.

Bishop Wypych said his pilgrims were a mixed group, some speaking mostly Polish, some speaking only English.

“Now you have a fourth and even a fifth generation of Polonia in Chicago,” he said.

While the group had a variety of backgrounds, they all shared the basic motivation for the journey.

“Most importantly, we could speak about their desire to be part of this celebration of Pope John XXIII and also John Paul the Great,” Bishop Wypych said before the group departed on April 24. “This is the first time that we have such a personality that we remember being canonized. It’s a personal joy that we have such a saint. Obviously, Polonia is very grateful and very happy and rejoicing. This is our greatest son in a thousand years of the history of the Polish people.”

The pilgrims all wanted to be part of the huge international gathering of people from all over the world, coming together in one massive celebration.

Bishop Wypych has a personal connection to St. John Paul. He was ordained as a deacon by the future pope when Karol Wojtyla was archbishop of Krakow, months before he was elected to the papacy. After that, Bishop Wypych met with John Paul several times when he visited Rome.

“He became a father-figure to me and an example of priesthood,” Bishop Wypych said. “I remember him not only as a pope, but as a bishop, and he cared very much about his priests. He loved the priests, and I would like to bring that example of John Paul the Great to my own ministry.”

The young adult group shared photos on Twitter and Facebook, including images of Father Robert Barron, rector of Mundelein Seminary and founder of Word on Fire ministries, whom they encountered at O’Hare International Airport when they left, and Father Manuel Dorantes, whom trip organizer Jesse Weiler saw in St. Peter’s Square.

In a YouTube video made and posted just before the canonization Mass, Weiler asked people here in the archdiocese to keep sending prayer requests to the group.

“Keep those tweets coming!” he said.


  • rome
  • canonization

Related Articles