CHICAGO (CBS) — There was another reason to celebrate mass at a church on Chicago’s Southwest Side today.

Five Holy Martyrs has ties to Pope John Paul II, who the Vatican says will be a saint by the end of the year. Parishioners at the mainly Polish church said they’re proud of the late pontiff.

Several people who spoke to WBBM to said they had met John Paul, who visited Chicago three times. He came as Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, he came in 1969 and 1976 and once as Pope in 1979.

Marion Valle says the Cardinal even stayed at Five Holy Martyrs.

Several parishioners say they believe the pope held Chicago in high regard because of fundraising efforts the parish led to help build a Catholic church in communist Poland.

When John Kurcharski was 19, he met John Paul at a mass in Austria and he’s tried to follow the late pope’s example of holiness.

“He told us, ‘Be helpful. Be good, your life is going to be better,’ because those times there was a communist system. I ran away from a communist system,” said Kurcharski.

Zbigniew Zbyszek says he’s very excited about the canonization, asking how many people can say they met someone who became a saint.

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