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Members Of Chicago’s Polish Community Look Forward To John Paul II’s Canonization In Rome

Jay Levine Jay Levine
Jay Levine is the chief correspondent for CBS 2 Chicago. He joined...
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(CBS) – Good Friday and Easter weekend finds hundreds of Chicagoans preparing for a trip to the Vatican.

Next weekend, the late pope who’s a symbol of freedom for them and their Polish homeland will be made a Saint.

CBS Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports they’ll be led by a man with close ties to John Paul II.

He’s Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Wypych, himself ordained a priest by the former Korol Wojtyla.

“He was a figure-father for me,” he says.

As he is for many Polish Americans in Chicago. John Paul himself described Chicago during his visit here in 1979 “the second Polish city in the world.”

Thirty-five years later, at Holy Trinity Parish on the Northwest Side, Mass is still celebrated only in Polish, with a side altar dedicated to Poland’s patron saints and its newest and most revered Saint.

“He was spiritually so strong that he just changed the world,” Fr. Robert Bedzinski says.

Bedzinski, who was also born in Poland, will be in Rome next Sunday. So will Bogdan Ogorek, one of his parishioners and a leader of what is called the JP 2 Group.

Ogorek’s group is dedicated to preserving the memory and the spirit of the late Pope and his motto: “Don’t be afraid.” It’s a spirit also captured by the signed poster Bishop Wypych has in his Chicago office.

Some predict as many as 4 million people showing up for the Canonizations.