The bonds of the Resurrectionists with St. John Paul II date back to the period of his studies at the Jagiellonian University. Some of our Fathers attended lectures along with him, while others were his students in the 1950’s. As bishop of Krakow almost every year on Easter Monday he would visit our church on Łobzowska Street, where at the time our major seminary was also housed. Some Resurrectionists received ordination to the priesthood through his ministry as Metropolitan of Krakow. Cardinal Wojtyła visited as well parishes served by Resurrectionists in Polish colonies of Chicago and Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. As bishop, and later as Pope, he made dozens of pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Mother of Graces at Mentorella, administered by the Resurrectionists, and was a guest at our Generalate House on Via San Sebastianello in Rome.
During his apostolic visit to Austria, the Pope dedicated an organ in the Church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in Vienna on September 12, 1983, and the next day he went to visit Kahlenberg, to commemorate the three hundredth anniversary of the Polish victory in the Siege of Vienna. In addition, on May 25, 2002, during a pilgrimage to Bulgaria, he crowned an image of Our Lady of Christian Unity at Malko Tarnovo.
A very special moment for our Congregation was celebrating together with the Holy Father the 150th Anniversary of the Founding of the Resurrectionists. The ceremony took place on January 4, 1987, at the Generalate House in Rome. Pope John Paul II, in gratitude for the gift of the first volume of the history of the Congregation, said: “I have here the history of the Resurrectionist Community, which I see is in English. I must tell you that, if there are any congregations with whose history I am more or less familiar, the Resurrectionists are certainly among them (...) The very truth of the Resurrection, the most important truth of our Christian faith, was in the 19th Century, after the fall of our homeland, a great light for the whole nation. Your founders also reached out to this truth as a truth of the faith, at the same time maintaining its character as an inspiration for their countrymen and for the contemporary society.”
At the end of his visit, in a reference to Vatican Council II, Pope John Paul called to mind the great challenge facing Resurrectionists today:
“Your Founders acted in a prophetic spirit, almost as if anticipating Vatican II with its total focus on the Paschal Mystery; that is to say, precisely on the mystery of the Resurrection, including of course the whole Paschal Mystery, from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. In this way the guiding principle as well as the charism of your Congregation is renewed and updated in this century (…) Your task is to work today for resurrection, for the spiritual resurrection of society.”