|John Paul II Foundation - Chicago|
In the current year, the John Paul II Foundation Chicago Chapter is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Merely two years after John Paul II in Rome established the foundation bearing his name, in Chicago a chapter was created under the name: The John Paul II Foundation Chicago Chapter. It was the year 1983. The Chicago Chapter was established by late Stanisław Pyka and Professor Stanisław Smoleński – the first and longstanding president of the Chapter. One of the most important goals of the Foundation, at that time, was collections of funds for the Foundation in Rome. Only for the first twelve years of its activity, the Chicago Chapter sent to Rome 110 thousand dollars. Thus, it was a very busy time.
In 1996, at that time the president of the Chicago Chapter, Dr. Bolesław Mazur died and two months later died its founder Prof. Stanisław Smoleński. Arkadiusz Walinski very involved and committed to the Chapter accepted the president’s functions. In 1998, Władysław Rymsza becomes the new president and along with election of the new board of the Chapter, the goals shifted more to promulgate the rich heritage of John Paul II among Polish community in Chicago. During the following years many valuable initiatives were undertaken, e.g. concerts, screening of movies, exhibitions, educational meetings. Soon after the John Paul II death, two music and verbal performances were presented along with evenings of prayers and meditations on all John Paul II encyclicals.
In 2011, during the board meeting another change was made inside the Chicago Chapter. The president’s functions were entrusted to Elżbieta Ceisel-Mikowska. Since that time two years passed and the Chapter with the new board was noted as very active and brave. Throughout many initiatives for the past few years it is prompting their goals at the northern part of Chicago as well as on the southern part.
The year 2013 was celebrated at the Catholic Church as the Year of Faith and for the Chicago Chapter that was the year of the 30th anniversary celebrations. Celebrations began in June with the opening of the photographic exhibition “30th anniversary of the John Paul II Foundation” organized at the Polish Museum in Chicago. The exhibition attracted approximately 100 individuals and the guests of honor were Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago Andrzej Wypych and the Consul General of Poland in Chicago, Ms. Paulina Kapuścińska. Another initiative undertaken on the occasion of the 30th anniversary was the pilgrimage of members and friends of the Foundation to Italy in October of the current year in which over fifty people participated. For the spiritual care, the Chaplain of the Chicago Chapter, Rev. Zdzisław Torba and vice Chaplain, Fr. Michał Blicharski were responsible. The program of the pilgrimage was very rich and full of many spiritual events. Thanks to Fr. Krzysztof Wieliczko, Administrator of the John Paul II Foundation, pilgrims were able to attend two private masses in the Basilica of St. Peter, one by the tomb of the first Apostle St. Peter, and the second one at the Chapel of the Martyrs of Europe. Meeting with Pope Francis during the Sunday’s Angelus and during the general audience was for all of us very emotional, while the masses at the dusk at the cemetery of Monte Cassion and in the grotto of St. Archangel Michael at Monte Gargano as well in the chapel of the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo will always stay in our memory. The pilgrimage had also a note of nature touring and participants visited among others Florence, Sienna, Capri, Sorrento and many other great places of Italy. It provided enormous amount of unforgettable and touching moments.
Sunday of November 3rd was the day of the 30th anniversary celebrations of the Chicago Chapter. The ceremony began with the mass at 3 p.m. at the parish of St. Ferdinand which was celebrated by the guest of honor, Fr. Krzysztof Wieliczko, Administrator of the John Paul II Foundation. The mass was concelebrated by Chaplains of the Chicago Chapter, Rev. Zdzisław Torba and Fr. Michał Blicharski and Fr. Zbigniew Pienkos. After the mass, a banquet was held for over 200 people at the hall of Jolly Inn in Chicago. We were honored by the presence of Bishop Andrzej Wypych, Auxiliary Bishop in Chicago, General of the Pauline Order from Jasna Góra, Fr. Izydor Matuszewski, Vice Consul, Mr. Robert Rusiecki and also numerous clergy and nuns.
During the ceremony special thanks were given to those who for the 30 years invariably are associated with the Foundation and to all who distinguished themselves in work and commitment to the Chapter. For their huge contribution they received Papal blessing from hands of Fr. Krzysztof Wieliczko. For the 30 years long commitment for the Foundation recognition was given to: Ms. Maria Blinstrubas, Ms. Monika Chabrowska, Ms. Anna Holmberg, dr. Jan Jaworski, Ms. Stella Magdon, Ms. Krystyna Mazur, Ms. Jadwiga Rynowiecka, Ms. Ludomira Smoleńska, Mr. Arkadiusz Waliński The recognition for their work and commitment for the Foundation was given to: Mr. Michał Adamczyk, Mr. Janusz Boksa, Ms. Marzena Grabiec, Fr. Stefan Filipowicz, SJ,. Mr. Zbigniew Karaś, Ms. Barbara Kozuchowska, Ms. Danuta Peszyńska, Mr. Władysław Rymsza, Mr. Marian Skawski.
The latest initiative undertaken to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Chapter was a lecture presented by Dr. hab. Sławomir Nowosad, Professor of KUL, on Sunday, November 24th at the Jesuit Millennium Center. The presented lecture was titled: “John Paul II – the search for a man in a man.” The presentation was organized jointly with the Open University of Catholic University of Pope John Paul II with which the Chicago Chapter started co-operation and hopes that in the future it will bring fruits of joint initiatives.
So far, the history of the Chicago Chapter of the John Paul II Foundation consists of many small and large events. But this history, it is also the everyday life, it is work and risk involved with any decision and facing responsibility for the decisions taken. It would not happen without people who were touched and affected by the power of Bl. John Paul II, who through their dedication and often many sacrifices shows that they want the heritage of the Polish Pope to continue, so it could be promulgated and it could transform the lives of others….and for that, we thank them!
Alicja Pozywio i Elżbieta Ceisel-Mikowska