Informational meetings Jan. 10 and 31 in Lincoln
SEWARD (SNR) – Father Christopher Barak, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Seward will lead a pilgrimage Aug. 28-Sept. 9, to Krakow, Poland and Prague, Czech Republic.
In celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis, the pilgrimage includes the opportunity to visit the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, and walk through its Holy Door called the “Gate of Mercy.”
Father Barak said Pope Francis encourages pilgrimages during the Year of Mercy “because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life.” By crossing through a Holy Door, he added, “we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.”
In Poland the pilgrims will visit places important to St. John Paul the Great: where he was born and baptized, shrines his family visited, the chemical factory where he worked, the Wawel Cathedral where he was consecrated a bishop.
“We will visit the Church of St. Florian where St. John Paul II worked as a priest with university students,” Father Barak said, “later inspiring him to hold World Youth Days. We will visit the modern Church in Nowa Huta that stands on the spot where as Archbishop he held outdoor Christmas Midnight Masses to overcome Communist plans of having no church in that town.”
The pilgrims who participate in the trip will also pray at the tombs of John Paul’s holy parents, and visit the new sanctuary of St. John Paul II to venerate his relic, a vial of his blood beneath the main altar.
“At the most popular Polish shrine,” Father Barak said, “we will visit the holy icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa, who has protected the Polish people for centuries.
“We will visit the famous salt mine with its magnificent carvings, St. Mary’s Church with the live trumpeter in the tower, and the two Auschwitz concentration camps where St. Maximillian Kolbe – patron saint of Spirit Catholic Radio – and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) spent their last days on earth building up the faith of those being oppressed and killed by the Nazis.”
He said the highlight of the pilgrimage will be three visits to the Divine Mercy Shrine where Jesus appeared to St. Faustina in her convent chapel. As Archbishop of Krakow, St. John Paul II opened the case to spread the message of Divine Mercy and publicize the diary of St. Faustina. St. John Paul II chose St. Faustina to be the first saint canonized in the Third Millennium. Pilgrims will venerate her relics at her tomb.
The pilgrimage begins in the Czech Republic with visits to the original Statue of the Infant of Prague, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the motherhouse from where the Marian Sisters who serve the Diocese of Lincoln came.
Father Barak will hold two information meetings for anyone interested in the pilgrimage. They will be held at the John XIII Center, 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Lincoln, Jan. 10 and 31, from 2 to 3 p.m. Father Barak said if either event needs to be cancelled due to weather, he will reschedule it for the following Sunday.
For those interested in preparing for the pilgrimage with books about God’s mercy, St. John Paul, and the importance of Poland in the plan of God, Father Barak recommended “Divine Mercy in My Soul” by St. Faustina; “City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II’s Krakow” by George Weigel; and “The Second Greatest Story Ever Told” by Father Michael Gaitley.