The Bishop’s Bulletin is the newspaper of record for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. The monthly publication includes news, features and columns relating to Catholic life in eastern South Dakota and is sent to every registered Catholic household in the diocese. It is also available on this web site. Bulletin Extras is found only on this website and allows the newspaper to report events between editions.

This Months Issue
April 2014

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John XXIII and John Paul II: Canonization is April 27, 2014 for the two
by - 4/10/2014

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli came from a farming family in Northern Italy. He was almost 77 years old when he was elected Pope John XXIII.

Karol Jozef Wojtyla lived through the horrors of the Nazi destruction and persecution in Poland. He attended an underground seminary during World War II. He was a poet and an actor and a scholar. He was 58 when he was elected Pope John Paul II.

When they were young, the idea that either man would become pope seemed unlikely. But that they would become saints was something each strived for early in life.

“God desires us to follow the examples of the saints by absorbing the vital sap of their virtues and turning it into our own life-blood, adapting it to our own individual capacities and particular circumstances,” wrote young Roncalli in his spiritual journal in 1903, a year before he was ordained a priest.

Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II will be canonized April 27 at the Vatican.

Many in the Diocese of Sioux Falls had the chance for personal encounters with Pope John Paul II. For example, many South Dakotans made the trip to Des Moines for an outdoor Mass during his 1979 visit there, and nearly a thousand encountered him in Denver for his 1993 World Youth Day visit.

By contrast, few had that opportunity with Pope John XXIII, who served until his death in 1963, long before popes travelled extensively or mass and social media were everywhere.

The Catholic schools in Aberdeen are known as Roncalli, in honor of Pope John XXIII and Mitchell’s Catholic school is known as John Paul II School.

Roncalli schools are celebrating the canonization and at the same time the 50th anniversary of the opening of Roncalli High School.

“The name (was) chosen by Roncalli students during the first year it was open,” said Pat Gallagher, Development Officer for the Aberdeen schools.

In Mitchell, there is much pride in its patron, Pope John Paul II.

“His picture is everywhere, showing him as pope but also as a young man before he was a priest. We even have a school song which celebrates the life of John Paul II,” said Father Larry Regynski, pastor of Holy Family parish.

John Paul II principal Robin Cahoy said the canonization is important to the whole Mitchell community and heightens awareness of Pope John Paul II’s holiness. “The fact that he will become a saint is intriguing to the older students and possibly an overwhelming fact to our younger students. This will be a very surreal event to know that our namesake is a saint.”

Father Andrew Swietochowski, pastor in Kimball and White Lake, is a native of Warsaw, Poland and first met the future Pope John Paul II in 1971.

“My good friend belonged to the Archdiocese (of Krakow) and was closely associated with Archbishop Karol Wojtyla … he made a great impression on me and my vocation,” said Father Swietochowski, who is also the former pastor of Holy Spirit, Mitchell where John Paul II school is located.
“Through the years I was blessed to participate in a number of liturgical celebrations presided by Cardinal Wojtyla as a guest of Cardinal Wyszynski in the Warsaw Archdiocese (at that time I was master of cermemonies or assistant of the master of ceremonies). The way he prepared for Mass made you realize that he was getting ready to be in the presence of God,” Father Swietochowski said.

“It is easy for students to relate to Blessed John XXIII,” said former Roncalli teacher and administrator Stacy Levsen.

“His wonderful sense of humor and his eternal optimism are inspiring. His writings are still relevant. He understood youth so well. I often reminded students that Blessed John said ‘Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.’”

“His words inspired me to try to be a better educational leader in many ways. When working directly with students, I thought of his admonition to, ‘See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little’,” Levsen said.

“In life, Pope John strove to be a good priest before God and before men,” wrote Bishop Lambert Hoch in his July 1963 Bishop’s Bulletin column. Pope John XXIII had died in June.

“Surely he was singularly successful in presenting to the world a clearer image and a more vivid appreciation of the loving face of God. Pope John was so human and happy, so humble and holy that he radiated at once an optimism and an idealism that captured men of good will everywhere,” wrote Bishop Hoch, who had personally met Pope John more than once.

Perhaps foreshadowing Pope John being canonized, Bishop Hoch wrote further, “Like that of His Master, Pope John’s death was a culmination of his life. Surely he has given the world an example of how to live and how to die. Offering his life and his death for the Church – Christ’s Mystical Body – for the Council and for Peace, Pope John through God’s goodness, will continue to project a powerful image for all to imitate until Christ’s prayer be fulfilled: ‘that they all may be one’ and His peace shall fill the earth.”

The Church’s diversity of saints shows us there is more than one way to be a saint said Father Regynski.

“All of us are called to be a saint in the concrete circumstances of our daily lives, with the challenges, hopes and fears of our day,” he said.

As an example, he said “Pope John XXIII had a great faith and trust in Divine Providence. That allowed him the freedom to press forward with the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) with a spirit of serenity and openness to the Holy Spirit. He didn’t allow negativity to infect his soul because he trusted in God’s care and promise to the Church.”

“Pope John Paul II had a great faith in God’s Mercy, which was for him a special devotion. He lived through the destruction of war and knew it as the ultimate human failure. If only people could recognize that we are all children of God and that each one of us, from conception until natural death, is made in the image of God, then we would know true human dignity and put behind us all injustices to it,” said Father Regynski.

He said the saints point to God and tell us, “God made us saints. He can make you one, too!”

“(The) last time I was blessed to concelebrate Mass with His Holiness John Paul II on June 28, 1998 was in his chapel in the Vatican. His blessings, his interest in me and in every human being, his sense of humor continue to keep me going,” said Father Swietochowski.

“He is God’s gift and intercessor for all of us. His canonization will give opportunity for the Church to give thanks to God for the gift of John Paul II,” he said.

“We are attached to some saints because of what they stand for, or we gravitate toward them because we can identify with their own lives and struggles. We also realize that they were human beings, too,” Father Regynski said.

“Even great saints had their personality flaws and idiosyncrasies. Canonization does not mean that everything the saint did was perfect, but that they became holy in spite of their imperfections. That should encourage us all,” he said.

Sister Paulette Garry, PBVM, a former teacher and administrator at Roncalli echoes that thought.

“The lesson I learn from St. John XXIII is to be who I am. With the gifts and limitations that are mine I can serve God and others. Other saints, I am sure, have given me this lesson, but to have St. John XXIII’s life in my lifetime, it speaks louder,” she said.

Photos at right:

Top: Pope John Paul II with Bishop Robert Carlson and then seminarians (now priests) David Stevens, James Mason, Scott Traynor and James Morgan.

Second from top: In the Holy Father’s chapel, Father Andrew Swietochowski is on the far left.

Third from the top: Bishop Paul Dudley presents the diocesan centennial history to Pope John
 Paul II.

Fourth from the top: Pope John Paul II greets Mary Elizabeth Wachs from Aberdeen.

Fifth from the top: Bishop Lambert Hoch with Pope John XXIII.

Bottom photo: Bishop Paul Dudley and Msgrs. John McEneaney and (now bishop) Donald Kettler during the 1988 Ad Limina visit.