LINDEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — For parishioners at one church in the Garden State, Sunday’s canonization of two popes in Vatican City holds special meaning.
At Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus Catholic Church, a predominantly Polish congregation, there is a powerful devotion to another soon-to-be-saint, John Paul II.
“Most definitely, to be right here in front of first and second class relics of the Holy Father,” parishioner Walter Tylicki said.
Tylicki and seminarian Kamil Belling showed CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes the archdiocesan shrine of blessed John Paul II in their church on Route 1 in Linden.
“In death, he continues to bring us close to God through our prayers inspired through his relics,” Tylicki said.
Relics are something connected with a saint or blessed — a part of their body, their clothing, or an object the person used or touched. The shrine at Saint Theresa contains six such items, including: a drop of John Paul II’s blood, pieces of his hair and one of his chasubles — or vestments.
“It’s quite a special garment for us,” Tylicki said.
The pope wore the chasuble when he celebrated mass back in 1995 at Giants Stadium.
Also in the shrine is one of his rosaries, a red cape he wore right after he was elected in 1978 — and a skull cap.
It’s all just another way the predominantly Polish parish feels connected to the Polish pope.
“John Paul II has, um, strong power of the Holy Spirit,” Belling said.
Tylicki met the pontiff in 2003. He said the church has been praying for his sainthood since his death. Their prayers will be answered this weekend — at the canonization ceremony for John Paul II and John XXIII.
“This Sunday is truly, truly a special day,” Tylicki said.
Parishioners are also reminded of what John Paul II said at the inauguration mass when he became pope: “Be not afraid, open wide the doors for Christ.” The parish will literally be opening its doors this Sunday, taking those relics out into the public for a 3 p.m. procession around the church.
John Paul II’s longtime personal secretary donated several of the relics to St. Theresa’s. A delegation from the parish is also in Rome for Sunday’s ceremony.
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