On April 27, we will celebrate the 5th anniversary of the canonization of St. John Paul II, which coincided with the Sunday of Divine Mercy. On this day, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, long-time secretary of St. John Paul II, will celebrate his 80th birthday. On the occasion, Cardinal Dziwisz recalls reminiscences related to Pope Wojtyla.
During his studies at the Major Seminary in Krakow, Fr. Prof. Karol Wojtyla was one of seminarian Dziwisz’s instructors. “What struck us about him? The professor’s attitude towards the seminarians was so simple and friendly. During the break, he would go to the chapel and pray there. We looked on from a distance and did not want to disturb him. After the break, he came, and we had the impression that he was talking to someone. He talked with God himself. Then, we saw that this man was immersed in God,” recalls Card. Dziwisz.
In 1966, Fr. Dziwisz became a chaplain and the secretary of the Msgr. Wojtyła, Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow. He recalls the situation when Archbishop Wojtyła invited him to the curia one evening for an interview. “He said: ‘You will join me; you will continue your studies and you will help me.’ I asked, ‘From when on?’ He replied, ‘Starting today.’ I said, ‘I’ll come tomorrow.’—Tomorrow, it will have lasted for thirty-nine years tomorrow,” says Card. Dziwisz.
Card. Dziwisz was the secretary of Archbishop Wojtyła and then Pope John Paul II for almost 40 years. “They often call me a friend of John Paul II. I can never use that word (…) I tried to serve him as a son because he was a father to us. He created a family where everyone felt good and loved him as a father,” emphasizes Card. Dziwisz.
The canonization of Pope John Paul II took place in 2014, together with the canonization of Pope John XXIII. The Solemn Mass of Canonization of both Popes at St. Peter’s Square was presided over by the Holy Father Francis and concelebrated by nearly 150 cardinals and 700 bishops from around the world, including the Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. The celebration brought 800,000 faithful together in the Vatican.