by Antonina Zielinska
To commemorate the 95th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and on the 31st anniversary of the first attempt on the life of Blessed John Paul II, polish clergy and faithful gathered in St. Frances de Chantal church, Borough Park, to venerate a relic of the late Polish Pope, on May 13.
Auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano, Vicar General, was the main celebrant of the Mass, rosary and procession.
“It was on this day that John Paul was taken into the hands of the Blessed Mother,” Bishop Caggiano told the congregation at the closing of Mass. “And Our Lady of Fatima saved him.”
He said the relic, a single drop of blood, is symbolic of the late pontiff’s life because Pope John Paul II gave everything, including his last drop of blood, to serve God and his people. The bishop said Blessed John Paul was able to sacrifice so much, thanks to the loving support of his heavenly mother.
“I ask you, I beg you, to open your hearts to the Mother of God, the mother of our church – for the world needs to know the face of Jesus,” Bishop Caggiano said to the church that was filled to capacity. “The world will discover it in you and in me if we follow the footsteps of Pope John Paul II and accept Mary as our own mother.”
Father Joseph Szpilski C.M., from St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, Greenpoint, reminded the congregation to not misinterpret the significance of the relic during his homily.
“It isn’t a magical object,” he said. “The relic is a symbol of a saint among us. It should help us get closer to God.”
Among the many ways Pope John Paul II brought the Catholic Church closer to God is by helping establish devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. In order to honor Mary under this title, Canon Andrzej Kurowski, S.A.C., pastor of St. Frances de Chantal parish, organizes a procession on the 13th of each month, from May to October, to mark the days of the Fatima apparitions.
Continuing its custom, the parish invited all those present at the Mass to join them in an outdoor procession. This time the relics of the Blessed Pope joined them as well.
Parishioner Danuta Nowak said she regularly attends the 13th processions to pray for a special intention. She said she hopes for the intercession of John Paul II who has such deep meaning for her and a special place in the parish community.
The procession finished at the foot of the ten-foot statue of the late pope outside of St. Frances church, where Bishop Caggiano celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving for the beatification of John Paul, a year prior.