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New JPII Statue Blessed

Posted By September 26, 2011 | 12:29 pm | Featured Article #1
WEBSTER – An imposing 13-foot-tall Vermont gray granite statue of Blessed Pope John Paul II now stands on the lawn of St. Joseph Parish. The monument in front of the rectory, between the basilica and the school, looks with welcoming arms outstretched on to Whitcomb Street. The familiar visage of the Polish pope has taken up residence on the grounds of the oldest Polish-American parish in New England as a gift of parishioners Theodore and Helen Dawicki. It was unveiled and blessed Sunday.

By Margaret M. Russell

WEBSTER –  An imposing 13-foot-tall Vermont gray granite statue of Blessed Pope John Paul II now stands on the lawn of St. Joseph Parish. The monument in front of the rectory, between the basilica and the school, looks with welcoming arms outstretched on to Whitcomb Street.
The familiar visage of the Polish pope has taken up residence on the grounds of the oldest Polish-American parish in New England as a gift of parishioners Theodore and Helen Dawicki. It was unveiled and blessed Sunday.
Images of Pope John Paul II are not uncommon around the diocese. There is even a new parish named after the popular pope who died in 2005 and was declared Blessed on May 1 this year. It is not surprising, however, that St. Joseph would be the first parish to erect an outdoor statue as it was Pope John Paul II who elevated this church to the status of a basilica in 1998.
St. Joseph, founded in 1887, is also the second oldest Polish-American parish in the nation and is beginning a year-long celebration of its 125th jubilee.
Pastor, Msgr. Anthony S. Czarnecki, left the unveiling of the new statue to retired Bishop Daniel P. Reilly following a prayer service Sunday at which there were readings and homilies in both English and Polish. Bishop Reilly was the main celebrant and priests of the parish, neighboring parishes and of Polish descent from around the diocese also attended.
Msgr. James P. Moroney commented on the Gospel reading of the Beatitudes, (Mt 5:1-12) saying that Blessed John Paul II called the Beatitudes the “Magna Carta of Christianity.” He related the struggles of the Polish people in their homeland and in their new land – in America and in Webster – to the “challenge and promise” of the Beatitudes.
Hundreds of parishioners, school children, parish organizations and guests processed from the church to the lawn for a program that led to the unveiling of the statue that was draped in a yellow and white cloth. The Pulaski Brass Band played and students read poetry dedicated to the late Pope and told his life story.
Among the honored guests were Mr. and Mrs. Dawicki. Msgr. Czarnecki thanked the Dawickis for their generous contribution, saying they were not wealthy people, but faith-filled people.
Mr. Dawicki, 84, told those assembled that he was happy to be able to see the statue erected in his lifetime.
Creator of the statue, master sculptor Stanislaw Lutostanski, 61, of Rock of Ages quarry in Vermont, also addressed the crowd – in his native Polish. He said in English that he had created other public statues around New England – including one of Christopher Columbus in Waterbury, Conn. – and that he hoped the people liked his depiction of Pope John Paul II. It was clear by the sustained applause after the unveiling that they did.
Bishop Reilly, who had met with Pope John Paul II many times, said he was stuck by the likeness of the statue. The site will become a natural place of pilgrimage, he predicted the day after the unveiling.
“May the example of Blessed John Paul II inspire us to pass to the next generations the values of our ancestors who established St. Joseph Church 125 years ago,” Msgr Czarnecki wrote in the program for the inauguration ceremony of the parish’s jubilee year.

A gallery of photos can be seen at http://bit.ly/mRhhlN