Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pope John Paul II

Day II- Wadowice 

Today was our second day in Poland. We woke up and ate a delicious breakfast and after we took a forty-five-minute bus ride to Wadowice. Since arriving in Poland I have taken the time to reflect and ask the questions to myself that are important to me. I have been chosen to go on this unique journey but I have been questioning, why am I called to be here? What is the purpose of me being here? Why has God placed me on this journey? As I have been reflecting on the purpose of being here and what I expect to encounter on this journey, I am ready to embark on this eye-opening experience.

During our time in Wadowice, we toured around the town center and went to where Pope John Paul II was born and raised, which is now a museum. Pope John Paul II was born Karol and lived in an apartment with his mother, father and brother, Edmund who was 12 years older than Karol. Karol’s mother had a baby girl Olga, but she died as a baby. During his childhood, Karol had many friends of Catholic and Jewish decent and was a great athlete (except as a football goalie!). Unfortunately, at the age of 9, he lost his mother in childbirth, and 3 years later he lost his older brother due to an infection from Scarlet Fever that he received from a patient. At the age of 18, him and his father moved to Krakow so Karol could enroll in Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

When thinking of the Pope, it was in interesting to learn about his life before becoming such a figure. It was interesting to learn about his love for the theater, sports and his intelligence. I really enjoyed going to the apartment he grew up in and where he was born because this and the artifacts made the experience surreal and a great understanding of many people’s favorite Pope. Something that caught my attention, was while Karol was enrolled at university, he did the opening welcome for the Cardinal. He made such an impression, the Cardinal asked one of Karol’s professors what his future career would be. The professor answered that Karol would most likely be a lawyer or a doctor. The Cardinal then responded to the professor and expressed that the Pope would be a great priest. It was a moment of great foreshadowing.

He grew up as a child accepting and loving others regardless of their religion. During his time as Pope, he canonized Maximilian Kolbe, a father who was sent to Auschwitz I and gave up his life for another prisoner. Giving up his life showed how others can be selfless regardless of religion. Pope John Paul II made it a point to show that this love between religions should always be prevalent and never allow such hatred of Jews to surface again. Just as Pope Paul VI communicated in Nostra Aetate it is the churches responsibility to promote unity of love among non-Christian religious, nations and to focus on what we have in common to draw us together.

After the tour of the museum, we went to the mass at the Basilica which is located right next to the apartment where the Pope grew up. We attended mass and it was a wonderful experience. Although, the service was in a different language, I was still able to follow throughout the service. We were told prior to the service that if we were receiving communion it is different than what we are familiar with. It was interesting when the priest and the alter-boy went around to each person receiving communion, instead of going up to the priest. After mass, we were able to walk around and view the different parts of the church. I sat down and closed my eyes and took a few minutes to reflect while in the corner dedicated to Saint Maria.

As I reflect on my day, I had many experiences that resonated with me. I am learning and growing personally and within my faith as I have had the experience to learn about Pope John Paul II’s influential life. During the week, I will still be reflecting to find the answers that I posed to myself in the beginning of this trip.


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