A Visit from the Secretary to a Saint

Calling it "an extraordinary event in the history of our community and of our Shrine," the Rev. Fr. Kaz Chwalek, MIC, welcomed a very special guest Tuesday to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who served as the personal secretary to St. Pope John Paul II for nearly 40 years, celebrated Mass with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in Stockbridge, Mass., during a brief and intimate visit kept purposefully low-key.

"He was a witness to [John Paul II's] holiness and a witness to all his work. He's a witness to the very life and mission of John Paul II, who we cherish now as Saint John Paul II," said Fr. Kaz, the Marians' provincial superior in the United States and Argentina. "We have collaborated for many years. We have worked with him side by side, and it has been an incredible joy. We are fulfilling the Lord's work ... and we have done so together."

Marians from throughout the province greeted the famous cardinal, including about a dozen men in formation. The Mass, at 10:30 a.m., was held for employees of Eden Hill and a few guests.

View a photo gallery from the visit.

The visit was as much a celebration of a shared love for the Merciful Savior as it was a celebration of their shared love of St. John Paul II, who was canonized on April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday. It was John Paul II who implored the Marians to "be Apostles of the Divine Mercy under the maternal and loving guidance of Mary."

The Marians partnered throughout John Paul's 26-year pontificate in the spread of the Divine Mercy revelations of St. Faustina. It was Cardinal Dziwisz who gave the Marians one of the few first-class relics in existence of St. John Paul II, following his death in 2005. That relic, a drop of blood, has become a major draw for pilgrims.

"I would like to offer this Mass for all of the Marian Fathers who have helped so much in promoting the Divine Mercy all over the world and who helped so much in the beatification process of St. Sr. Faustina," said Cardinal Dziwisz, who serves as archbishop of Krakow, in Poland.

His Eminence remarked at the beginning of Mass how he oversees the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki, on the grounds of the convent where St. Faustina received many of her revelations, which she recorded in her diary, now known the world over as Divine Mercy in My Soul: Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. The Marians in Stockbridge are the publishers of the Diary in English and many other languages.

Noting the Polish heritage of John Paul II, St. Faustina, and the Marian Congregation itself, Cardinal Dziwisz said, "I'm glad to see there is such a beautiful National Shrine of The Divine Mercy here in America. You could tell the Polish heart is beating here, and the hearts of all those who worship Divine Mercy are beating here."

He added, "We worship the Merciful Jesus here, but we venerate here also two great apostles of Divine Mercy: first, St. Sr. Faustina, who received the message of Divine Mercy, and then St. John Paul II, the great apostle of Divine Mercy who spread Divine Mercy all around the world."

View the opening remarks of both Fr. Kaz and Cardinal Dziwisz:

Cardinal Dziwisz's visit lasted only a few hours before he had to board a plane back to Poland. His visit to the United States included being awarded an honorary doctorate from Seton Hall University on May 19 and visits to various Polish-American communities to raise awareness of the "Be Not Afraid Foundation" that he established in Krakow to perpetuate the life and legacy of St. John Paul II.

In attendance at the Stockbridge visit was the Marians' beloved friend and collaborator, His Excellency Timothy Anthony McDonnell, bishop of Springfield, Mass.

"We know it's only a fly-in visit," Bishop McDonnell said to the cardinal. "We know you are in and you are out very quickly, but we want you to come back, come back anytime. You are always welcome.

"You remind us so much of St. John Paul II," Bishop McDonnell said. "You were his closest collaborator, we know. You were with him for years and years. You were with him in his trials and his sorrows and in his joys and in his travels. You were there by his side, and we thank you for your support of him. And through you, we thank him for all he has done to make the world a better place."

In his homily, read in English by his personal secretary Fr. Tomasz Szopa, Cardinal Dziwisz noted the special mission undertaken by the Marian Fathers to make known to the modern world "the truth about God who is rich in mercy."

The day's Gospel reading from John (15:1-8) - an account from the Last Supper - defines that truth about God, Cardinal Dziwisz wrote. "It reminds us that the most precious gift from our crucified and Resurrected Lord is His friendship. He Himself names us as His friends."

View the homily:

At the conclusion of Mass, Cardinal Dziwisz described his relationship with St. John Paul II as akin to that of a "son to his father." He said he never considered his service to John Paul II hard work.

"Of course it was responsible, it was important, it was serious, but it was light, because I was sure, I was convinced, that God was with him," Cardinal Dziwisz said.

Indeed, he noted that the Lord has made many miracles happen through John Paul II during his life and now through his intercession from heaven. No surprise: Cardinal Dziwisz noted his favorite saint of the Church today is his former boss.

"When I have difficult situations, issues, some problems, I always go to him, to John Paul II, and I tell him, 'I was helping you for 40 years. Now it's your turn to help me!'

"So that's my advice to you," Cardinal Dziwisz said, "to pray for his intercession, and that always works."

View all the closing comments here:

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