Monday, June 25, 2007

Pope John Paul II remembered

A walk in the Soroptimist International Friendship Garden on Sunday sounded like a stroll in Poland.

More than 100 people dressed in their Sunday best gathered around the Polish monument in the park as a new plaque in memory of Pope John Paul II was unveiled.

Before leading an open-air mass next to a small, rush-lined pond, Thunder Bay Bishop Fred Colli helped Piotr Konowrocki, consul general of the Republic of Poland based in Toronto, unveil the memorial plaque.

It had been covered by a flag of Poland, the late pope‘s birth country.

The memorial and blessing began with the singing of the Canadian and Polish national anthems by the Millennium and Our Lady Queen of Poland parish choirs.

After the unveiling, children from the Polish school, wearing traditional dress, placed deep red roses on the ground under the late pope‘s new tribute.

Born in 1920, John Paul II died in 2005. The plaque is in memory of a “beloved son of the Polish nation, dedicated by grateful fellow citizens of Thunder Bay.”

The written praise of the late pope was joined by spoken accolades Sunday afternoon. One speaker called him “the greatest ambassador of the Polish nation,” while Jolnta Kiraga, president of the Canadian Polish Congress in Thunder Bay, referred to John Paul II as “a man for all people around the world” and Poland‘s greatest son.

Contributing significantly to the dismantling of the Iron Curtain, said Konowrocki, the late pope was a leader in reconciliation.

His life‘s work was full of “examples of how to serve people and change the world for the better,” said Konowrocki.

The Friendship Garden was a 1967 Centennial gift, showcasing monuments representing 18 ethnic groups in the city.

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