The news that Pope John Paul II, beloved the world over and especially here in New York, will be declared “Blessed” by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, May 1 is an occasion of great joy and grace.
Soon-to-be-Blessed Pope John Paul visited New York three times – twice as Pope, and once when he was the Cardinal-Archbishop of Krakow, and so in many ways we consider him to have been an honorary citizen of what he famously referred to as “The Capital of the World.” His visits to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, his celebration of the Mass in Yankee Stadium and Central Park, his visit to Saint Charles Borromeo Church in Harlem and to Saint Joseph Seminary in Yonkers are still fresh and vivid in our minds. (The New York Times has a slideshow of Pope John Paul II’s final visit to New York.)
Of course, Pope John Paul literally travelled around the world during his pontificate, and I know that people in all corners of our globe also consider him to be an honorary citizen of their city and nation as well. Everywhere I’ve travelled on behalf of the Church, even in places like Alaska, Ethiopia, Syria, Haiti, and Lebanon, I hear stories of his visits from people whose eyes still sparkle with grateful memories. And, the millions of people who had the opportunity to meet him, to shake his hand, to spend a few minutes in his company, certainly had the same experience that I did – that for those moments he was focused completely and totally on you, and that he truly saw in you a reflection of the image and likeness of God.
Another cause for celebration today is the announcement of the finding of heroic virtues for Father Nelson Baker, a priest of the Diocese of Buffalo, who is in the process towards possible beatification and canonization. Father Baker was known for his tremendous works of charity during his 60 years of priesthood.
I invite you to join me in praying that, if it be God’s will, Pope John Paul and Father Nelson Baker will both soon be raised to the altars and be declared blessed and eventually saints of the Church.
Tags: Pope John Paul II