"An exceptionally good trip" is the way Father Matt Nycz describes a recent pilgrimage to Poland. The pastor of Blessed Mary Angela Parish in Dunkirk, who was born and raised in Poland, helped arrange the mid-May trip which included about 30 Catholics from the Diocese of Buffalo.
It was billed as a trip 'Following the footsteps of Polish Saints of Mercy' to coincide with the Jubilee Year of Mercy. A highlight of the trip was a private audience with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who used to be the personal secretary for Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Dziwisz presented Father Nycz with a relic from St. John Paul II, which will be venerated at the Dunkirk parish and beyond. It is a tiny piece of St. John Paul II's clothing stained with the blood of St. John Paul II, presumably from the assassination attempt he survived in 1981.
The pilgrimage included visits to places that were significant in the lives of St. John Paul II, St. Faustina, St. Maximilian Kolbe and Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko.
A visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and seeing the starvation cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe died was the most emotional day, according to Father Nycz. "In the Year of Mercy, to visit a site where ultimate evil manifested itself, it's just overwhelming. People were becoming numb emotionally". While in Krakow, the local group celebrated Mass at Our Lady of Czestochowa, then the Shrine of Divine Mercy, with devotions and prayers in between to give them a spiritual boost.
Father Nycz is organizing another pilgrimage to the Holy Land in February 2017. For more information email Father Nycz at email@example.com or call the Blessed Mary Angela Parish Office at (716) 366-2307.