This May Fr. Jacek took a group of Newman Center parishioners and friends to Poland for a 9 day pilgrimage. The first three days were spent in Warsaw where we first learned about the history of Poland, in view of the Vistula River, and under the watchful eye of a Marie Curie statue, a famous Warsaw resident. We toured the Royal Castle, experienced the Polin Museum of the History of the Jews, visited the Warsaw Dominican Priory, and St Hyacinth’s church. We listened to Chopin in the Park and ate pierogis and beer whenever possible. Then we motored down to the shrine of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa and arrived at our apartments, one block from one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe.
In Cracow we experienced the Wieliczka Salt Mines, visited the Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska shrine, and spent half a day at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Following the extermination camp we made our way to the St John Paul II shrine. The shrine has only been open for one year and sits on the remnants of the quarry where John Paul discerned his vocation. The church is decorated with mosaics and is amazingly beautiful. Here, together we prayed the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy contemplating one of the most horrific events of history along with the stunning work of St John Paul. At St Mary’s Basilica, we saw the gothic architecture of Poland and listened to organ music in the evening. At the Jagiellonian University’s Collegium Maius, we learned about Copernicus and his contributions to math and astronomy in the year 1400. We completed out our visit to Cracow by walking through the Jewish Ghetto and watching the ordination of eight new Dominican Deacons at the Church of the Holy Trinity.
Fr Jacek, besides sharing his comprehensive history of Poland, both spiritual, political, and economic, can also take credit for introducing us to cherry vodka, home cooked Polish cuisine, and splendid public transportation. Many thanks to Fr. Jacek for a wonderful trip.