Cardinal Wojtyla Visit

Posted on Aug 13 , 2011 in About Saint Peter Catholic Church

Cardinal Wojtyla Visit

With the passing of the great Pope John Paul II to eternal life, the memories of his visit to Stevens Point and to Saint Peter Catholic Church in August 1976 have been rekindled. During a Stevens Point deanery memorial celebrated a few days after his April 2005 passing, a slide show and table of books, photos, newspaper clippings and other information about Pope John Paul II was displayed in the St. Faustina Room at St. Peter’s which included, among a variety of images of the late Pope, some newspaper articles depicting Cardinal Wojtyla’s visit to Stevens Point. During the memorial Mass, Fr. Derek Sakowski shared his reflections on being a member of the “John Paul II generation” and the son of Zofia and (the late) Waclaw Soroka, who were instrumental in bringing the Cardinal to Stevens Point, gave some background on the visit (only months after his elevation to Cardinal, and just over two years before his election as Pope). He also spoke about the Polish community in Stevens Point, as well as the life of Pope John Paul II. For those who were too young to remember, the facts were recounted that Cardinal Wojtyla arrived in Stevens Point Municipal Airport courtesy of John Joanis’ arrangement of a Sentry jet, that he spoke at UWSP, and said Mass in the SPASH Fieldhouse (none of the area churches were large enough to contain the large congregation that came for the Mass).

Now that the public media has taken an interest in the life of Pope John Paul II, many have become familiar with his heroic fight against fascism and communism. As a philosopher he was well respected even in the secular realm. Personal humanism and phenomenology are words synonymous with the thought of John Paul II. His defense of life, promotion of families, and the development of a completely new theology, Theology of the Body, were just a part of his legacy. His pontificate was dedicated to fulfilling the goals of Vatican II, and leading the Church into the Third Millennium, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope.”

The honor that Saint Peter Catholic Church shares with the rest of Stevens Point and Portage county should not be forgotten, and so that the momentous visit of Karol Cardinal Wojtyla would not be lost in time, a sculpture of the Joyful Mother with a prayerful John Paul II kneeling before her and the Child Jesus, was commissioned in 1997. On the day of Pope John Paul II’s death and for several days afterwards, this sculpture became an impromptu and heart-warming shrine to John Paul the Great, with flowers, candles, handwritten notes, and rosaries laid on the marble foundation of the sculpture.

Perhaps as Pope John Paul II’s cause for canonization advances, this sculpture and Saint Peter Catholic Church itself will become a place of pilgrimage for those seeking the intercession of this great man of heroic virtue. We invite you to join us in prayer for the intercession of Pope John Paul II for your own intentions.

Prayer for the Intercession of Pope John Paul II

O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen.

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