Thursday, April 24, 2014

Close To The Heart of Karol Wojtyla: The Felician Sisters

Continuing our series investigating the visit of future Pope John Paul II to a rural Polish community in Central Wisconsin in 1976, we pick-up the thread from our previous post and follow the Polish Cardinal as he visits the first foundation of Felician Sisters in North America.

Besides having a desire to breath the fresh air of rural Wisconsin, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla also came to Portage County to visit a beloved religious order: Zgromadzenie Sióstr św. Feliksa z Kantalicjo (Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice, most commonly known as the "Felician Sisters").
St. Felix of Cantalice

St. Felix of Cantalice

The Felician Sisters were founded by Blessed Mary Angela Truszkowska in 1855 in Warsaw, Poland and soon after in 1869 were called to move their motherhouse to Krakow. Blessed Mary Angela had a special devotion to St. Felix of Cantalice, a Capuchin Franciscan who had a particular love and attention to children. St. Felix was a personal friend of St. Philip Neri and led an active-contemplative life teaching children in Rome. Thus, she named her congregation of sisters after St. Felix and began to devote her entire life not only to the forgotten children of Poland, but also the less fortunate and homeless of the city.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Green of America: A Saint's Visit to Rural Wisconsin

Continuing our series investigating the visit of future Pope John Paul II to a rural Polish community in Central Wisconsin in 1976, we pick-up the thread from our previous post and follow the Polish Cardinal as he visits area Polish farms.

Now we come to one of the main highlights of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla's visit to Portage County. One of the reasons why Cardinal Wojtyla was interested in coming to a rural area in Wisconsin was on account of his desire to see the "green of America." He related to his hosts that "whenever he came to the United States all he ever saw was 'cement in cities' and he wanted to see where the Polish farmers lived." As a result, he was able to visit six farms outside of Stevens Point.

His tour began around 10:30 am and his first stop was at the dairy farm of Maurice Groshek. After a brief greeting of farmers there, he proceeded to visit the farm of Ed Zdroik, who recently had a stroke and was confined to his home. Cardinal Wojtyla spent an extended amount of time speaking with Mr. Zdroik and even gave him a special blessing. Wojtyla always had a special closeness and care for those who were suffering and sick and displayed this even during his short visit in Wisconsin.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reviving The Lost Art Of Polish Easter Eggs

Pisanki - Flickr
Holy Saturday is a long day of patiently waiting for the beauty and glory of Christ's Resurrection at the Easter Vigil. It is a day of preparation as the church is decorated and families begin preparations for their Easter meals.

Additionally, it is a perfect day to spend quality time with friends and families decorating Easter eggs. While the American way of decorating Easter eggs is rather simple and often non-religious, the Polish art of painting an Easter egg is full of symbolism and beauty.

Besides being a symbol of Christ's resurrection and the gift of new life, a Polish Easter egg is often painted with various other symbols. Here is a brief description regarding the most common symbols:
The eggs are decorated with many traditional Polish symbols of Easter. Most popular are: the Lamb with Resurrection Banner (Baranek, symbolizing the Lamb of God from the Agnus Dei of the Catholic Mass), pussy willow (often used instead of palms in Poland), Cross (symbol of the Crucified Christ), or Easter greetings, such as Wesolego Alleluja or Alleluja. - Polish Easter Traditions

Friday, April 18, 2014

Visiting the Tomb on Good Friday

Grób Pański in Raszowa - Photo: Dominiko
Today, Good Friday, is a day marked with sorrow and grief. It is the day when our Lord was crucified and died for the salvation of the world. It is an appropriate day to mourn, most of all because it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross and made Him suffer even more.

One way to bring this reality closer to our heart and soul is to visit the tomb (Grób Pański) of our Lord and see His slain body lying there, lifeless. It is one of those Polish traditions that reinforces the reality of Good Friday and reminds us that this event did happen. Christ died and His soul left His human body. To even further solidify this historical event, many Polish churches will have a set of two "guards," in imitation of the Roman soldiers who were set to watch over the tomb. In the end, we are met with the reality of death, yet we are given hope for Christ conquered death and rose on the third day.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Home Away From Home: Saint Peter's Catholic Church

Continuing our series investigating the visit of future Pope John Paul II to a rural Polish community in Central Wisconsin in 1976, we pick-up the thread from our previous post and follow the Polish Cardinal as he visits a Polish parish in Stevens Point.

At the conclusion of the greeting at the Stevens Point Municipal Airport, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was escorted by local police to one of the oldest Polish congregations in the area, Saint Peter Catholic Church. 

A New Parish For A Growing Polish Community

In the summer of 1860, Father John Polak was appointed to St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Stevens Point, "which was the only Catholic Congregation in Stevens Point, composed of Irish, French, German and a few Polish families." Three years later in 1863 the Poles who settled outside of Stevens Point had greatly increased and needed to form another congregation of their own.
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