Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Tom Tracy - Florida Catholic
POMPANO BEACH - The last time he visited Miami was as personal secretary to Blessed John Paul II - during the latter's 1987 visit to the United States, one of 104 trips outside of Italy that he made with Blessed John Paul.
Last week, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland since 2005, came to Miami as a pilgrim visitor to South Florida, where he met Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski and the regional Church.
As the hemisphere readies for yet another papal visit - that of Pope Benedict XVI to Mexico and Cuba - the cardinal celebrated Mass in three archdiocesan churches, including the Polish mission in Pompano Beach and with the local Cuban community at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami.
Traveling with several Polish priests and presenting well-wishers with a Blessed John Paul II prayer card and relic, Cardinal Dziwisz talked about his work as a kind of keeper and promoter of John Paul’s legacy. He has said he knew he was living and working next to a saint - even before Cardinal Karol Wojtyla’s election as pope in 1978.
"I am trying to be a curator of his remembrance and heritage," he told members of St. Patrick Parish in Miami Beach on Feb. 3. "We would like to preserve for the future generations the legacy of the person who contributed significantly to the fall of the godless communist system, the system which dominated millions of people in many countries, especially in Eastern and Central Europe."
Cardinal Dziwisz added that he has been inviting Catholics around the world to help preserve and "creatively cultivate the great spiritual and intellectual heritage of John Paul II" through construction of the John Paul II Center in Krakow. He said the center is being named "Do not be afraid!"
While in Florida, Cardinal Dziwisz was guest of honor at the annual Polonaise Ball hosted by the Miami-based American Institute of Polish Culture. Proceeds from the ball will support the John Paul II Foundation, a Rome-based charity started by the pope himself in 1981. Its goal is to give scholarships to students from Eastern European countries that were once part of the Soviet Union.
Calling Miami a “beautiful, fascinating city,” the cardinal said he remembered John Paul’s outdoor Mass on Sept. 11, 1987 at Tamiami Park and how it was unfortunately rained out by a sudden thunderstorm. He also remembered the Holy Father’s visit to the Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami.
In each of his stops around South Florida, the cardinal presented the local church with a framed portrait of Blessed John Paul II. He also gave media interviews to TV and press reporters eager to talk about the upcoming papal trip to Cuba and about John Paul II’s legacy.
“My life adventure with John Paul II did not end at the day of his blessed death, just as his presence and role in the life of the today’s Church have never ended,” the cardinal said.
After celebrating a Saturday morning Mass at Our Lady of Czestochowa Polish Mission in Pompano Beach, the cardinal was greeted by Polish-speaking members of the mission, some of whom said they remembered him from his days as a priest back in Poland. The local Polish community said they had been preparing several months for the visit.
Some parishioners asked the cardinal to autograph copies of his book about his years with the pope, “A Life with Karol.” Others dressed in Poland’s regional clothing, including Danuta Walach, a resident of Pompano Beach and former principal of the Polish Saturday school at the mission.
“I am from Raba, Poland, Cardinal Dziwisz’s town, and I was very proud to be confirmed by Cardinal Wojtyla,” Walach said, after she briefly sang a Polish folk song for Cardinal Dziwisz as he made his way out of the church to have breakfast at the rectory nearby.
“For me personally he is a highlander and he was right-hand to the pope,” Walach said of the cardinal. “I will remember this day mostly because Cardinal Dziwisz and Archbishop Wenski were using our mother tongue.”
“Our Madonna is our queen of Poland for all people, and we are proud to have this particular church,” Walach added.
The cardinal’s visit represents the greatest day in the 50-year history of Our Lady of Czestochowa Polish Mission, according to Jerzy Vogdziewicz, president of the financial council at the mission and vice president of the Polish-American Congress in Florida.
He said the cardinal’s comments recalled John Paul’s invitation to everyone to practice sanctity in daily life. “He said everybody can be a saint during the day, during work, in your family life and with others,” Vogdziewicz said. “We will definitely make some initiative here for the Blessed John Paul II center in Krakow.”
Cardinal Dziwisz also visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity to talk with the Cuban-American community, and he celebrated Mass and met with Catholics at St. Edward Church in Palm Beach.