Homily of Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko at the Unveiling of the Benefactors’ Plaque
JUBILEE OF THE 30th ANNIVERSARY OF THE JOHN PAUL II FOUNDATION
Polish Home, October 22, 2011
Unveiling ceremony of the benefactors’ plaque
Introduction to the liturgy of the Word:
I cordially welcome and extend my best greetings to all participants attending the ceremony of the 30th anniversary of the John Paul II Foundation. On behalf of the entire Administrative Council I wish to express our gratitude for your participation and a large presence. Thank you that, that despite any discomfort of sometimes long trips, you came here to celebrate with us in Rome.
My warm welcome to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the special and unique Witness of life and pontificate of John Paul II, to Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, Primate of Poland, Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, my predecessor and to all other Bishops, special greetings to Hanna Suchocka, Poland’s Ambassador to the Holy See and Monsignor Pawel Ptasznik, Rector of the St. Stanislaus Church in Rome, welcome to the members of the Administrative Council, priests, nuns, and all of you - my dear brothers and sisters - who are supporting this magnificent initiative by your active participation as the members of the various John Paul II Foundation Chapters around the world.
During the Liturgy of the World, we would like to give thanks to our God for all goodness which was granted to as during these, past 30 years thanks to initiatives of our Foundation. In our prayers, we would like to embrace all benefactors, especially remembering those who already deceased. In a moment we will unveil the next plaque commemorating their names… We should also remember those who on various positions worked for the Foundation in the past and those who with dedication are working today … But, most of all, especially we are praising God for the gift of beatification of Pope John Paul II – Polish Pope and Universal Pastor. We are aware that this beatification is a great gift, but also a tremendous call for which, as the Foundation bearing the name of the Blessed Pope, we would like to answer enthusiastically and fully.
“Be grateful…” (Col 3,15)
- On the occasion of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, Blessed John Paul II taught us, what jubilees mean and what significant impact they have on our lives. According to the Holy Father, to experience a jubilee in a mature sense should always include the three elements: thankful remembrance about our own history, experiencing with passion and involvement the current moment, and looking at the future with new hope. (comp.“Novo millennio ineunite”). This is the way we would like to celebrate the jubilee of the 30th anniversary of the John Paul II Foundation: consolidating grateful memory of its history, involving in its present-day tasks and constantly awakening steadfast hope for the future, despite of the turmoil of the contemporary world…
The Words of the God, as we heard a few minutes ago, encourages us to celebrate the jubilee in such way. It reminded us that the leading threat of each jubilee is gratefulness. In the first reading, from the Letter to the Colossians, St. Paul encourages us: “With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” The attitude of thankfulness towards God and people, is from end to end a Christian attitude, as in the centre of a Christian life is the Eucharist, that is Thanksgiving…Thus, on the occasion of the jubilee of our Foundation, spontaneously we would like to say the words of the Psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits! …” (Ps.103) The excerpt of the Gospel according to St. John which was just read, reminds us about the final source of all good fruits of our deeds. Christ says about Himself: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…” (J 15,6). For that reason, our jubilee’s thanksgiving is most of all directed to God through Jesus Christ. He is the source of all and so numerous good fruits of our Foundation…In a special way we give thanks to Our Lord for the gift of the Person and Pontificate of John Paul II who so deeply transformed our contemporary world. We give thanks for the testimony of faith that He left us, for His teachings, which despite of the passing years do not become stale. We are thankful for the gift of His beatification celebrated by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, on May 1st of this year. We still can hear Pope’s Benedict XVI touching words: “Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people. You often blessed us in this Square from the Apostolic Palace: Bless us, Holy Father!” We are also thankful for our Foundation that bears the name of the newly Blessed and which for the 30 years demonstrated to be a truly providential initiative and as a good Gospel’s tree produced an abundant crop. How not to be thankful to our Lord today!
- A jubilee is a grateful remembrance about its own history… Thirty years ago, on October 16, 1981, on the very beginning of His Pontificate, Holy Father signed by Himself the Foundation Establishment Statute. It is a Vatican Foundation, and therefore underlines our close connection with the Holy See. The Polish Home, purchased in 1980 thanks to the generosity of Polonia from around the world, and especially Polish emigration from the United States, become its seat. These are the roots of the John Paul II Foundation; it means faith of the Polish emigration and their attachment to the Church as well as love to the St. Peter’s Successor, Pope John Paul II… Among us are present today eyewitnesses of this establishment: Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, then the Holy Father’s personal secretary, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, then an employee of the Secretariat of State, and Mr. Wladyslaw Zachariasiewicz, the initiator of the collections for the Polish Home among Polish American emigration and the promoter of the first Foundation Chapters in the United States… We are grateful for their presence among us!
Faithfully departed Cardinal Wladyslaw Rubin was the first Chairman of the Administrative Council. Then, Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly undertook this responsible function which he held for twenty years. We are grateful for their contributions.
The Polish home, form the very beginning, was not only the seat of the Foundation, but also, and foremost, it was serving Polish pilgrims who were arriving in increased numbers to the Eternal City; friendly piece of “Poland” in Rome, where Polish people were able to feel at home…Today, the function of the Director of the Polish Home is held with dedication by Monsignor Mieczyslaw Niepsuj, who is being helped by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and laic personnel. For the 30 years, approximately 200 thousand pilgrim travelers were visiting this small place of Rome, now so muc part of our Foundation in the Center of the Universal Church.
The Center for the Documentation and Research of the Pontificate of John Paul II is directed today by Dr Andrzej Dobrzynski who is being helped by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart; together they are taking care of the library and museum collections, and the precious archives. The Centre organizes symposia and congresses as well as it publishes various publications related to John Paul II and His Pontificate.
An important fraction of the Foundation’s initiative is financial help – scholarships given to the students of the Catholic University of Lublin. Our educations work intensified when thanks to generosity of Connely Foundation of Philadelphia the John Paul II House was erected in Lublin in 1994. Thanks to the scholarships granted by our Foundation, more than 800 students from the former Soviet Union and other countries were able to obtain higher education at Catholic University. It is an important contribution of the Foundation in the creation of Catholic intellectuals in these countries. Dr. Ryszard Krupa with great dedication takes care of the John Paul II House in Lublin. In this context, we should mention activities of the Foundation Representation in Poland, which is directed with great commitment by Mr. Maciej Bednarkiewicz, Attorney. Thanks to the existence of the Foundation Representation, the House in Lublin can successfully operate, especially supported by the Warsaw Chapter of the Foundation Friends under the leadership of Mrs. Ewa Bednarkiewicz.
Father Krzysztof Wieliczko and before him Monsignor Stefan Wylężek is responsible for the administrative activities. He is also responsible for the Chapters of the John Paul II Foundations around the world. Currently, there is approximately 50 Foundation Chapters that are operating in 18 countries. We are especially delighted with the Chapters growth for they are also responsible for the educational activities, learning about life and teachings of the Blessed John Paul II. We are very happy with Chapters with members without Polish background, for example Foundation Chapters in Indonesia and Mexico. The Foundation’s future in a great degree depends on the Foundation Chapters existence; hence, a special thanks to all the Presidents of the Foundation Chapters for their contribution to the Foundation activities.
“Be grateful! …” encourages us today St. Paul. The list of the individuals who should be mentioned today is long and our time – unfortunately – is limited. Looking back on the past thirty years, full of gratitude towards God and towards other people, we are embracing in our prayers all people thanks to whom our Foundation – a live monument of the Person and Pontificate of John Paul II – was established and could undertake its initiatives. We give thanks for the beautiful and mature fruits of its activities. We trust that the grace of the 30th anniversary strengthens all of us in this good initiative and that the intercession of the Blessed John Paul II be always with us. Blessed John Paul II once said to the members of the Foundation and its friends: “I ask you to persevere in this good work. May it continue to develop and may your joint efforts, sustained by God's help, continue to produce magnificent fruit.”
John Paul II, bless us!
Bless the work and goals of the Foundation which bears Your name! Amen!