HOME OF JOHN PAUL II
When we started building the Centre of John Paul II ‘do not be afraid!’, cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz said: ‘Let’s build home for John Paul II!’. It is the home of the Polish Pope – assures prelate priest Jan Kabziński, a bishop’s vicar, a custodian of the sanctuary of St. John Paul II
The chairperson of the Centre on the White Seas assures that the place where the greatest Pole worked physically years ago, during the Nazis occupation, is the home of John Paul II; it is home where everyone can arrive.
Today it is hard to believe that not so long time ago was this area not used. Fr. Jan Kabziński emphasizes: - We are here like on the desert. Nobody lives here, there are no blocks of flats. Everyone must arrive here. Not long time ago were there big reservoirs of Solvayu, where white wastes of Soda Plants in Cracow were deposited here, hence the name is – the White Seas.
Despite still being built, at present hundreds or even thousands of pilgrims arrive at the Centre of John Paul II ‘Do not be afraid’. We find out from Fr. Paweł Kummer, holding his pastoral ministry here, and also an assistant of the chairperson of the Centre, we find out that the most important place on the White Seas, as if its heart, is the sanctuary of St. John Paul II. He informs us that the Centre includes: the Institute of Inter-Culture Dialogue named John Paul II, Volunteerism Centre and other cooperative institutions, among the others: Archdiocesan Museum of Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, University of the Third Age…
He says that rooms are still being built, in which there is among the others, a museum and exhibits already planned and commemorating the person of the Polish Pope.
My interlocutors emphasize that the Centre is being built thanks to donations of believers. Fr. Kabziński mentions: - First we built a lower church, which refers to original basilicas with its form and where in the centre there used to be an altar surrounded by believers. He reminds that there are relics in the altar, hence the name is – the church of relics. The custodian of the sanctuary mentions that when the Holy Masses begun to be celebrated, believers appeared from the very morning in order to pray at home of John Paul II.
There are more and more people here. Fr. Kummer informs the Holy Masses celebrated on Sundays in the sanctuary are attended by 4.5 to 6 thousand believers. He notes: - These are people identifying themselves with this place. They are willing to arrive here, they come to confession here. One can feel that this is a community. Seven priests hold their pastoral ministry in the sanctuary, including a permanent penitentiary.
The number of pilgrims who often arrive in the White Seas from very far parts of the world, is increasing: - we are not doing any detailed survey. Only reported groups are registered, but a lot of people arrive privately. We see groups even from China, Japan. As for pilgrims, there are a lot of the Italians. There are also pilgrims from Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and America.
In relation to the forthcoming World Youth Days, there are more and more such groups. There will surely be much more pilgrims after the international event. Also because on the White Seas pope Francis will celebrate the Holy Mass.
The Sanctuary of St. John Paul II has got a lot of offers for believers. For example, it is worth mentioning, among them, Holy Masses for families or everyday divine service to St. John Paul II. In the present Holy Year of Mercifulness, there appeared, among the others, Holy Masses for healing, a special divine service on Fridays for spouses. At the sanctuary there is a choir, and from various parishes altar boys are being recruited. Here there is a neo-catechumenal community and here single mothers have found their place.
In June our sanctuary will have its little jubilee – five years of existence – says Fr. Kummer. He notes that pastoral ministry existing on the White Seas can be called the Sunday one, because believers from Kraków and areas nearby visit the home of St. John Paul II just on Sunday. He adds that there are about 100 people who arrive in the sanctuary every day to participate in the Holy Mass. – I would like to emphasize that it is a still developing sanctuary to which believers come to pray and ask for graces through the intercession of St. John Paul II – says Fr. Paweł.
A particular group in this community are families. Fr. Kabziński explains that people engaged in creating the Centre of John Paul II wants families to find their place on the White Seas so that they would feel the home of St. John Paul II is also their home. He emphasizes that during everyday religious services, through the intercession of the Polish Pope, requests for gift of having children are read out: - People arrive here and ask St. John Paul II in the sanctuary for intercession and asking for the most valuable gift in the family which is having children. And then they thank for this gift and ask for baptism for their asked out child.
Evaluating the role of the White Seas, Fr. Kummer notes: - Variety of the Centre is a kind of a mosaic. As it is known, besides what one can see, it also includes something which must be discovered. This sanctuary is one of elements of the mosaic - a particular place, chosen by God. Once the Creator elected Karol Wojtyła among Poles, and now, in this sanctuary St. John Paul II shows us a road to eternity, to Heaven.
The Centre has got a particular role to play. Priest Kustosz says: -We do everything so that the place would be lively, important for people, who will arrive here. We want it to serve people in various ways. When I am looking how it is developing, how various initiatives are appearing in it, then I think that it happens so.