Usually, one of the most dominant events of the Parish Chapter of the John Paul II Foundation is an annual Christmas Wafer meeting at the Polish Embassy in Paris. That was also the case this year. On January 28, 2017 in the beautiful interior of the embassy, we met together to, most of all make New Year’s wishes while sharing the Christmas Wafer, but also to see the music and verbal program and sing Christmas Carols. Among gathered guests there was: Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission (PCM) in France, Rev. Bogusław Brzyś; Rev. Mitered Prelate Stanisław Jeż – prior Rector of the PCK and honorary President of the John Paul II Foundation Paris Chapter; Ambassador Dariusz Wiśniewski and Consul Hubert Czerniuk. Present was also Ms. d’Ornano – longstanding benefactor of the Foundation and members of the Chapter’s board: Mr. & Mrs. Brzakowski, Rogowski and Tomkiewicz as well as the Pastor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Church in Paris, Rev. Paweł Witkowski. The Ambassador opened the meeting. After greeting all guests, in his speech, he related to the heritage of John Paul II as an integral part of the history of Poland and the Church. He emphasized that it is important, especially for us, Poles, to refer to the teaching and heritage of John Paul II, so the Holy Father was not only a historic person, but we should keep in our hearts, memory and actions, all what John Paul II was saying as a theologian, philosopher and as a Pole, our Countryman. Then, Mr. Brzakowski, President of the Chapter, expressed his gratitude to the Administrative Council and Board of the Chapter for their commitment as well as he gave thanks to the people who are overseeing preparation of the bulletin. He summarized prior year which was reach in events, among which we can list:
- In April, a retreat for the members of the Foundation which was held in Sacré-Coeur;
- May 3rd, awarding Mr. Rogowski with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit for his social and cultural activities for Polonia and promoting French and Polish friendship.
- In October, a pilgrimage to Italy by the footsteps of John Paul II and for the 35th anniversary of the Foundation and private audience with Pope Francis.
At the end of his speech, Mr. Brzakowski presented the plan for the Chapter for the year 2017, which includes, among others:
- In April, a weekend in Tours by the footsteps of John Paul II and sightseeing of the castle in Montrésor
- In April, a Mass at the anniversary of death of JPII.
- Retreat at the Divine Mercy Sunday in the Saint-Sulpice Church or Sacré-Coeur Church;
- May 4th – a Day dedicated to John Paul II. In May, we will have a general meeting of the Administrative Council;
- July 3rd, an anniversary of the visit of Cardinal Wojtyła at the Polish Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Church in Paris;
- September 9 -17, a trip by the footsteps of JPII in Berlin, Wrocław, Jelenia Góra and Prague;
- October 21st, an anniversary evening of the Cardinal Wojtyła’s election for the Pope, John Paul II.
As we know, the beginning of the year 2017 was full of changes at the Catholic Church in Poland. Exactly on January 28th, in Krakow, took place ingress of Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski who took over the responsibilities of the leader of the Krakow’s Church. The ceremony which was held at the Cathedral in Wawel, also attended Fr. Krzysztof Wieliczko OSPPE – Administrator of the John Paul II Foundation. Thus, he was not able to come to Paris and join our Christmas Wafer meeting. However, via Mr. Henryk Rogowski, he sent a letter in which he directed Christmas and New Year’s wishes to all members of the John Paul II Foundation. In the letter, Fr. Krzysztof wrote:
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased" – with these words John Paul II greeted in his homily pilgrims and faithful people around the world on December 25, 1998, whishing them that the Bethlehem’s peace would fill up their hearts. Let the words of Saint John Paul II provide the atmosphere for today’s meeting by the Christmas Wafer. (…) Let the time of sharing Christmas Wafer and making wishes, be the time of brotherhood, joy and peace at your hearts and at your families! (…)
I would like to express my gratitude for your commitment and generosity. We give thanks to God for the past Year of Mercy and for the gift of the 35th anniversary of our Foundation.
During the private audience for members of the Foundation, Pope Francis encouraged to continue the initiative directed to young people inspired by Saint John Paul II. Pope Francis entrusted us to Maria, Mother of Mercy. (…) Dear members of the John Paul II Foundation, let Jesus accompany you and your families on the path of salvation, let He gives you joy in faith and courage to be salt of the earth and light of the world! God bless you!”
In the next part of the evening, Ms. Norska presented artistic program. During the program musical pieces were presented by the following pianist: Piotr Dabrowski, Valeria Kucharenko and the violinist Elżbieta Stolarz-Lucas. Young and very talented Mateusz Walendzik with a beautiful baritone sang a few pieces in Polish and French language. At the end of the artistic part, Paris’ choir “Gaude Mater Polonia” directed by Ewa Lenartowicz led us into the “magical world” of Polish Christmas Carols. We were able to join their singing which gave us a lot of joy. After this, so beautiful artistic part, all gathered were making wishes while breaking Christmas Wafers, which were blessed by the Rector of the PCM, Rev. Bogusław Brzyś. Then, there was a time to enjoy Polish dishes and a glass of vine. During the meal and throughout the rest of the evening we were enjoying nice conversations.