Centennial of John Paul II’s Birth

100th Birthday

May 18, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Saint John Paul II. He was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years and the first one ever from the Slavic country (born Karol Józef Wojtyła in Wadowice, Poland). Notably, Poland remained behind the Iron Curtain at the time of his birth (May 18, 1920) and election to papacy (October 18, 1978). His pontificate was the third longest in the history (26 years) and his canonization process started just one month after he died on April 2, 2005. Following the canonization on April 27, 2014, his feast day as a saint is celebrated on October 22.

Called often the “Polish Pope,” the “Millennial Pope,” the “Pope Pilgrim” or “”St. John Paul the Great,” he has a special place in the history of Poland and the world. His life mission was to fight for the dignity and respect of every human being. Viewing Polish heritage as a foundation of his openness to the diversity of people, he advocated dialogue between the followers of all religions, and campaigned against political oppression and materialistic attitues plaguing the West. The influence of his teachings still extends well beyond the usual scope of Catholic Church.

NOBODY WILL REPLACE YOU (Nie zastąpi Ciebie nikt): Winner of the competition for hymn commemorating the 100th anniversary of John Paul II’s birthday.

John Paul II made pastoral journeys to 129 countries, attracting huge crowds in every corner of the world he visited. As Polish Americans, we never forget his first pilgrimage to Poland (1979) for it gave rise to the emergence of “Solidarity”, liberation of the nation from the communist rule and reconstruction of the unity of Europe. We also remember his seven visits to the United States and his words directed to Polonia communites around the world:

“Poland and Polonia communities abroad: In certain respects two different yet supplementary, complementary parts of the same realm, the same soul, culture, thinking and feeling, and history, aspirations, disenchantments, victories and defeats. (…) Today I repeat yet again that Polonia is important to Poland, just as Poland is important to Polonia. Both need each other reciprocally. Both need spiritual, moral and religious renewal; a continual renewal that shapes the inner core of a person, core of the family, society, core of the nation. (Holy Mass for representatives of Catholic Polonia community, Vatican, February 26, 1989.).”

FROM 0 TO 84: Life of John Paul II in pictures
(click on the rectangle in right corner for full screen view).

Originally in Polish: “Polska i Polonia zagraniczna. Pod pewnym względem dwie różne, ale uzupełniające się, komplementarne częśći tej samej rzeczywistości, tej samej duszy, kultury, myślenia i czucia, i dziejów, aspiracji, zawodów, zwycięstw i porażek. (…) Dziś powtórzę jedno raz jeszcze, że Polonia jest ważna dla Polski, tak jak Polska jest ważna dla Polonii. Obie są sobie wzajemnie potrzebne. Obie potrzebują duchowej, moralnej, i religijnej odnowy; nieustannej odnowy, bo z niej rodzi się wewnętrzny ład człowieka, ład rodziny, społeczeństwa, ład narodu… (Msza św. dla przedstawicieli katolickich środowisk polonijnych, Watykan, 26 lutego 1989 r.)”

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