On April 20-21, 2018 in Rome took place the meeting of the presidents of the John Paul II Foundation Chapters spread all over the world. It was a wonderful time filled with joint prayer, formation meeting, as well as sightseeing of the Eternal City and the summer residence of the Popes in Castel Gandolfo. The meeting also allowed to exchange experience and to take an insight into the future of the Foundation.
The first day started with a Mass celebrated at the tomb of the Foundation’s founder, St. John Paul II. The Mass was celebrated by His Excellency Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, Papal Almoner and formerly longtime Papal Ceremonial. Fr. dr. Krzysztof Wieliczko, Administrator of the John Paul II Foundation, who was the organizer of the entire meeting, delivered the homily during the Mass. In his homily, he pointed out the truth about holiness, he said: “The truth about the John Paul II holiness in a special way shone after his departure to the Father’s House. That truth encourages us to look for our personal holiness. The holiness is not gained only in the extraordinary situation, but in the way of personal vocation and service, in the daily carrying out our duties. We should have in mind the John Paul II words: “Saints do not demand applause from us, but that we will imitate them.” What the holiness of this extraordinary Pope is teaching us? First of all – that we should courageously profess our faith.”
Then, presidents of the Foundation Chapters gathered in the language groups to share their experiences in their own local Chapters, spoke about their successes and difficulties. In the second part of the meeting, spoke the alumni and current fellowship recipients of the John Paul II Foundation program. Once again, their testimonies made the participants aware how important and beautiful is the work of the John Paul II Foundation.
The second day started with a solemn Mass at the Chapel of the Miraculous Image of Salus Populi Romani in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore which was celebrated by his Eminence Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, Archpriest of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and the President of the Administrative Council of the John Paul II Foundation. Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko in his homily said: “John Paul II as his apostolic motto chose these famous words: “Totus Tuus!” that is “All Yours, Mary”! It was his program according to which he organized his entire life, as a young man, as a cleric of the underground seminary in Krakow, as a bishop and as a Pope. In them encloses the secret of his spiritual power, which to this day inspires great admiration: more than 100 apostolic pilgrimages, 15 encyclical, approximately 3,000 speeches and catechesis made in so many languages. The great Apostle and teacher of faith! Once John Paul II himself revealed a piece of his Marian devotion secret and explained the meaning of “Totus Tuus” by saying: “This formula has not only the nature of the devotional saying, it is not only an expression of devotion, but it is more…” (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 157) so in these words was included his entire life program!…
Then, the Holy Father in memory went through the most important meetings with Mary – from the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Wadowice’s parish, through the tradition of the Carmelite’s scapular at the Carmelite Fathers Church in Wadowice’s Gorka, through the Sanctuary of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, to Jasna Gora (Czestochowa). This was the school of His Marian devotion, which resulted in the “Totus Tuus!” – “All Yours, Mary”
Directing our sight of faith in the direction of this ancient Icon of the Mother of God ““Salus Populi Romani” let us say again after St. John Paul II “Totus Tuus!” – “All Yours, Mary”
After the Mass, Cardinal Ryłko personally met with the participants of the Mass and talked about the history and architecture of the Basilica. Then participants of the meeting went for the sightseeing of ancient Rome. Some of them refreshed their memory, but most of the participants were able to see the ancient Rome for the first time. In the afternoon, another meeting in the adequate language groups was held. This meeting was devoted to reflections and plans for the future in achieving the objectives of the Foundation. The day ended with the movies related to John Paul II “Apartment” and “Nine Days that Changed the World.”
Sunday, was the day of the visit to the Gardens and the Pontifical Palace at Castel Gandolfo, the place which has many memorabilia of the Founder of the Foundation, now Saint John Paul II. In the early afternoon, in the Papal Church in Castel Gandolfo, a Mass was celebrated by His Excellency Rev. Józef Staniszewski, Bishop of Grodno, alumni of the John Paul II Foundation, who in his homily stated: “Brothers and sisters. Great Pope, Saint John Paul II, god shepherd, asked the gathered people and all people of good will to open wide the doors to Christ – human hearts and borders of countries. Precisely he, following the example of the Good Shepherd, took on his shoulders a man in need, made sure that the candle with a weak flame will not be quenched, led to the green valley so we could rest, explained the Scriptures, gave a helping hand, helped to immerse submerge into the Church’s heritage, exactly to those who needed it, so they would not be able to say that: I do not have a man to help me.
All of this has become possible and effective, thanks to your, dear Brothers and Sisters, generosity and kindness. Today, on behalf of all who felt the “touch of the passing Lord”, from the bottom of our hearts we say ‘thank you.’ We put our prayers, through the intercession of Saint John Paul II, in front of the God’s throne and we ask the Good Shepherd to continue to touch virtuous hearts of daughters and sons of the Church to be able to make a “gift of self” for others. We ask Saint John Paul II, from the window of the House of the Father, to bless all, bless members of the great mission – the John Paul II Foundation. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, who heard, adopted and lived the Word of God, always guard you and accompany you in your mission path.”
Strengthened with Word of God, joint prayers, work, and joyful celebrations, Presidents of the Chapters ended their visit in Rome with the meeting with Cardinal Ryłko in the gardens of the Polish Home.