Today is the feast of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr. He was murdered in his cathedral while he was celebrating the Mass on 8 May 1079. His crime: reproaching King Boleslaus and excommunicating him for his bellicose and immoral actions against the poor and the oppressed. This hero and patron saint of Poland led me to further reflect on our own “Polish hero,” Fr. Joe Walijewski.
Today, 11 April, is the seventh anniversary of Fr. Joe’s death. “Joe the Pole,” as he was affectionately called, ministered to children and to the poor and oppressed people of South America, specifically in Peru and Bolivia. Fr. Joe died during Holy Week of 2006 in Peru and his tomb is on the hill overlooking the orphanage he founded, Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II, which still flourishes today.
It is exciting for us to think about the saints. As we pray for the canonization of Fr. Joe, how wonderful it is for us to consider the fact that he has only been dead for seven years. Many people in our Diocese and around the state and, indeed, around the world, have stories they tell about him and their direct encounters with him.
On 1 May, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph the Worker, the principal patron of our beloved Diocese, we will gather at our Cathedral and celebrate the Mass in honor of our Patron Saint. At that Mass, we will witness the formal convoking of the Tribunal (the officials), who will formally work at the task of assembling, evaluating, and collating the data that will be sent to Rome for the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints to consider and, hopefully, recommend to the Pope for formal declaration in the Church.
The Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 in the afternoon, and everyone in the Diocese is welcome and encouraged to attend. Even if you are not able to participate in person, I sure hope that you will take some time to pray to Saint Joseph, our Patron, for all workers and for families in these tough economic times. Please also offer a prayer that God will give Fr. Joe to us as a saint for our times. A noble man of Polish heritage, who like Saint Stanislaus, defended the poor and the orphan; a virtuous man, like Saint Joseph, who supported the integrity of the Incarnation in heroic love and care for God’s “little ones.”
The saints are all around us. They are us. While we have the time, let’s try to recognize and encourage each other to be the best person we can be.
I look forward to seeing you at Sunday Mass!