Blessed John Paul II ‘kept us strong’

By | May 11, 2011

The Miaskowskis, members of Holy Spirit Parish in Darboy, are natives of Poland. Tomasz came to the United States in 1988 and Kasia and their children arrived the following year.


Tomasz and Kasia Miaskowski, natives of Poland who now live in the Fox Valley, attended the beatification of Blessed John Paul II on May 1. Here they are shown in Vatican City, with St. Peter’s Basilica in the background. (Submitted photo | For The Compass)

Kasia was a teenager when Blessed John Paul became pope in 1978, but she can still recall the impact of that event.

“We were just stunned because we feel we are a forgotten nation under communism,” she said. “We felt so small — the door was closed to the west for us. We didn’t know much about anything beyond Poland or Russia. When we elected him everyone was thrilled.”

Under communism, Poles were forbidden to attend church; however, many people ignored that rule.

“Church was our place where we could express ourselves and feel free,” Kasia said. “The church told us, not in a military way, but we should oppose communism and stay true to ourselves and fight in some way for freedom.”

Some have said that the fall of communism in Europe was a direct result of Blessed John Paul II being appointed pope.

“He was the perfect person for that,” said Kasia. “Even in the Second World War, he was in the resistance. He was very active. He had a good connection with young people always.”

Both Tomasz and Kasia had a couple of opportunities to see Blessed Pope John Paul II celebrate Mass and speak in Poland during one of his many pilgrimages there. They also were part of a general audience with him in 1997 when they took a trip to Italy with their four sons.

When the pope died six years ago, the Miaskowskis were unable to attend his funeral, so they were grateful to be a part of his beatification. They traveled to Rome and toured Italy with three other couples who were friends from Poland.

The night before the beatification ceremony, the group attended a candlelight prayer vigil. On Sunday, May 1, they managed to get into St. Peter’s Square.

Witnessing this historic event was heartening for both of them. “People were there from all over the world, about 1.5 million,” said Tomasz.

“It gives you hope for the future of the Catholic Church,” added Kasia. “There were so many young people. There were young sisters; there were pilgrimages of young people led by the young clergy.”

Tomasz and Kasia prayed for Pope John Paul’s aid even before he was beatified, but he’s even more significant to them now.

“He was such a warm person. In Poland, he was already a saint,” said Kasia. “He was such a symbolic person for Polish people. He held our hopes; he told us what to do under communism. He would come and he will tell us that our faith will keep us strong. He made us feel that we are worth something.”

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