| Polish community
for thanksgiving Mass
Deacon Witold Cichon
When Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, celebrates a Solemn Mass and Te Deum in Thanksgiving for the canonization of Blessed Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II, the evening before their canonization in Rome, the pews will be filled with the grateful faithful.
"It is a wonderful gift to us," said Deacon Witold Cichon, director of the diocese's Polish Pastoral and Cultural Center. "We are very glad. Bishop Barber was very considerate when we asked about this special Mass," he said.
The liturgy for the Mass, at 5:30 p.m. April 26 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, will include elements of the native languages of the two popes, as well as influences of the global reach of both.
Blessed John Paul, known as a globetrotter who made 104 trips outside Italy, served as pope from 1978 to 2005 and was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011. Blessed John XXIII, known particularly for convoking the Second Vatican Council, was pope from 1958 to 1963; Pope John Paul beatified him in 2000.
The first reading will be in Spanish, Deacon Cichon said, with the second reading in Polish. The prayers of the faithful will be offered in seven languages, including Blessed John XXIII's native Italian.
"We'd love to see the whole cathedral filled with the faithful," said Deacon Cichon. After Mass, the Polish community will be offering hospitality, with traditional food and cake. The children of the Polish school in Walnut Creek will dance.
The Polish community has invited the Italian Catholic community to join in the festivities. "We love John XXIII very much," he said.
"Italians have 100 saints who were popes," he said. "Poland has only one."
Having the two canonized together, he said, is "the best thing that can happen."
"It's a good reason to ring the bell and thank God for everything," he said.
There should be plenty of bell ringing in Rome, where estimates are that a million people will attend the Mass in St. Peter's Square. Hundreds of thousands of people will have to watch the ceremony on large video screens.
The Prefecture of the Papal Household issued an advisory that access to St. Peter's Square would be first-come, first-served and warned pilgrims that unscrupulous tour operators already were trying to sell fake tickets to the Mass.
A month before the big day, Rome hotels were reporting being booked to near-capacity.
Asked by reporters in July to describe the two late popes, Pope Francis said Blessed John was "a bit of the 'country priest,' a priest who loves each of the faithful and knows how to care for them; he did this as a bishop and as a nuncio" in Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and France before becoming a cardinal and patriarch of Venice.
He was holy, patient, had a good sense of humor and, especially by calling the Second Vatican Council, was a man of courage, Pope Francis said. "He was a man who let himself be guided by the Lord."
As for Blessed John Paul, Pope Francis told the reporters on the plane, "I think of him as 'the great missionary of the church," because he was "a man who proclaimed the Gospel everywhere."
(Catholic News Service contributed to this report.)
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