PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Bishop David Zubik is among several local Catholics who made the trip to the Vatican, while thousands celebrated here.
One landmark church in Pittsburgh marked the event with the enshrinement of a permanent relic in honor of St. John Paul.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church joined Catholics worldwide in observance of “divine mercy Sunday.” A tradition started after Easter by John Paul II, when he was pope. The service marks the canonization of the now St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII.
“God has given the world two wonderful saints,” said Father Joe Mele with the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese. “Doesn’t it make you want to thank God? Will you join me and do what they did in the beautiful?”
St. John XXIII is credited with launching a renewal in the Catholic Church before he died in 1963.
“He was a very lovable person,” said Father Joe Swierczynski of Pittsburgh Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, “a humane person, one who loved to be with people, very pastoral person.”
The more than 100-year-old Police Catholic Church has a strong connection to St. John Paul, who visited the church in 1969 when he was a cardinal. The church’s affection goes deeper than the fact that he was the first Police Pope.
“I’m very proud, because first of all, he was holy, he deserves it we feel,” said parishioner Irene Lanza. “God apparently thought the same thing.”
Sunday, the church enshrined a relic containing a blood stain on a piece of John Paul’s robe when he was shot during an assassination attempt in 1981.
“People anywhere in the world, but in our city and southwestern Pennsylvania, in the tri-state area, can make pilgrimage to be healed,” said parishioner Kimberly Topczynski, “they will be touching part of a saint that will bless them.”