In June, 2017 we made our Living Kraków Pilgrimage in Poland with Spiritual Director, Fr. Rolyn Francisco and Fr. Stan Nadolny, joined by Deacon Ed. Mirasol.
Our itinerary led us from Warsaw through the Eastern part of Poland, Kazimierz Dolny, Lublin, Majdanek Death Camp, Royal City Sandomierz, Łancut Castle, Rzeszów, Tarnów, Zalipe (Village of Flower Houses).
Then we arrive in Kraków, City of Saints, and begin the Unpack Once(TM) portion of our Pilgrimage, during which we are accommodated fot the next seven nights at the Divine Mercy Pilgrim House of St. Faustina at Łagiewniki, from which we make day excursions, returning to our home each night.
Some pilgrims start here, the majority now receive free laundry service allowing them to leave the checked bag at home.
Day excursions feature the Mercy Saints and other Polish Saints and include venues like Częstochowa, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Wieliczka Salt Mines, many venues in Kraków including Sanctuary of St. John Paul II, Archbishop’s private residence and chapel where Karol, future Pope was ordained priest, Wawel Hill where we participated in the Mass and Eucharistic Procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi, Church of the Arc and Cistercian Monastery in Nowa Huta, Mountain venues like Dębno, Poland’s oldest wooden Church and Niedzica Castle, in land of scenic Dunajec Canyon, much more.
Wish you could have joined us. This was another great pilgrimage because,once again, we had such a fantastic group who shared their talents and fellowship abundantly.
Here are some highlights:
- Louise Precosky shared her talent and experience as Sacristan to line up various elements of the Masses, which were very devout and moving
- Many, including choir leader Luana Patterson, Sharon Stanton and Sara Majkowska shared their musical talent and taught us all musical liturgy for each Mass.
- At our Mass con-celebrated by Frs Rolyn and Stan, assisted by Deacon Ed, at the Altar of Black Madonna in Jasna Góra Shrine, Częstochowa, our final song was Czarna Modona with the refrain sung by us in Polish. What a moving moment when 1000+ Polish pilgrims joined in with us, singing beautifully in harmony.
- 9 Year Old Joey Montanarella joined us because he had just been confirmed with the name “John Paul II.” When we visited the Carmelite Monastery in Wadowice we showed Joey the Scapular, now a Relic, that 9 year old Karol Wojtyła received there; then surprised Joey with his own scapular, just like Karol’s, presented by the Carmelite Priest who also enrolled him. This all took place in the monastery’s Chapel of St. Joseph. (Joey commented on this, and gazed on his St. Joseph prayer card for the entire 9 mile ride to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.)
- Two young woman, Sara Majkowska and Tanah Smith, who are discerning religious vocations joined us and were able to discuss Religious Life with Sisters in 4 communities. Tanah and her mother Jenni, left early for an extension to Lourdes.
- On behalf of Fr. Joseph Francis we were able to obtain a “paint on canvas” image of Divine Mercy from the Sr. Weronika of the Community of Our Lady of Mercy in Płock and a First Class Relic of St. Faustina, a piece of her bone, from Sr. Diana of the community in Kraków-Łagiewniki. This request was made at the last minute and only happened because of the prayers of hundreds and the Mass intentions on our pilgrimage. The image and Relic are for the new Divine Mercy Chapel at the Grand Canyon University Newman Center served by Fr. Joseph and the Franciscans of the Holy Spirit.
- One of Sara Majkowska’s friends, Mary Clare, is a new postulate of the Albertine Sisters and invited us to a ‘private’ celebration of the Feast Day of St. Albert. It turned out to be a beautiful Mass presided by Kardynal Stanisław Dziwisz and the new Abp of Kraków, Marek Jedraszewski, and sung by a Choir of Angels (Sisters). After the Mass, the Abp noticed us in our pilgrims jackets and walked over, engaged us in conversation and posed for pictures with us. The honored guests were the homeless served by the Albertine Brothers, a very moving experience. For me, the highlight memory of the entire pilgrimage.
- We spent a bit more time on the bus than usual, but our driver Jacek made frequent relief stops and had a knack for getting the bus very close to each point of interest to keep walking to a minimum. He also kept the water cooler fully stocked with cold woda. In Częstochowa a sudden cloudburst seemed to have us trapped in a religious gifts store, but Jacek wheeled the Mercedes bus right up on the sidewalk allowing a quick, relatively dry, dash to safety. Even some pilgrims with mobility concerns report they were easily able to keep up.
- We celebrated Corpus Christi twice. The first, Frs Rolyn and Stan and Dcn Ed served at the Altar of the Mass in Kraków at Wawel Cathedral on actual Corpus Christi Day along with the Kardynal, the Archbishop, several other bishops and countless priests and transitional deacons. This is the most well known Corpus Christi celebration because of its connection to St. John Paul II, but actually Masses with Eucharistic processions take place all over Poland, at every church. Corpus Christi is celebrated through the entire octave, so on Sunday we celebrated again at a tiny wooden church in the Tatras mountains at Dębno, near Zakopane. This is the oldest wooden church still standing in Poland. However, Fr. Stan was not with us. He slipped away to the village church of his ancestors and the locals honored him by designating Fr. Stan to carry the monstrance in their parish procession.
- Pierogi night was a hit, and pilgrims were awarded with diplomas for learning the art. Diplomas were notated “Uczę Się” – I am learning. Tasted great!
- In the past, for cultural activities, besides pierogi, we have learned to bake bread in a wood fired stone beehive oven, visited breweries, tried lace making in Koniakow, painted “flower house” designs in Zalipe. This time we toured a wodka distillery in Lublin whose specialty is fruited blends such as plum, cherry, citrus. I believe I heard Fr. Rolyn insist, in the tasting room, that these are sacramentals.
- In beautiful “Royal City” Sandomierz, we were walking down the cobbled street when the local Bishop popped out of his residence on his way to the Cathedral. He stopped and talked with us for several minutes and offered to pose for group pictures.
- Kazimierz Dolny is a very picturesque town founded to distribute local farm products via the Wisla River to the Baltic Sea, then to the world. Now it’s become an artists’ colony. We enjoyed a river boat ride at dusk; very nice.
- Łancut Palace near Rzszezów is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Europe, with nearly 400 rooms. I enjoyed the magic mirrors that repeat an infinite number of images.
- Several of us enjoyed elegant horse drawn carriage rides in Warsaw, Lublin or Kraków.
- A Chopin concert in the Chopin Museum was a great way to start our discovery of Warsaw.
- Our Warsaw accommodations at Divine Mercy were in the actual convent allowing us to share time and devotions with Sisters.
- We were Blessed to have a number of Filipino brothers and sisters with us, whose Faith added greatly to our experience. Besides Fr. Rolyn, Tony, Monina, Bea, Lourdes, Raul, Dcn Ed and Jessica. Most are seasoned travelers as well so we learned from them. Tony and Moni tried to check in at a homeless shelter for the night in Warsaw, but decided our accommodations at Divine Mercy were preferable. Our Tour Leader Piotr and his lovely bride Anna recently vacationed in the Phillipines so they had experiences to share.
- In Warsaw, the Parish Church, grave and museum of Bl. Martyr Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko were popular; many said they didn’t before know much of this Solidarity Priest and wished to learn more.
- Jewish Heritage Day culminated with an entertaining Klezmer Dinner with Roast Goose entree. Previous visits to the magnificent Polin Museum of the History of Jews in Poland, and the Majdanek Concentration and Death Camp in Lublin made this day poignant.
Why not join us on our next Living Kraków Cultural Pilgrimage in Poland and make your own memories? For info, email Mike@LivingKrakow.com