Tom & Sue Poland Days 13 & 14 Kalwaria & Wadowice (Home of Pope John Paul II)

Dzien Dobry:

Sunday (Day 13 of the Poland portion of our personal pilgrimage)

What a day! Even though we were up at 6 we didn’t care.  We hung around the house having several cups of coffee and went to the 9 AM Sunday mass just down the street. It was a beautiful little church and the place was packed. Again we ended up standing in the back but at least we could see. Some people were even out the door for lack of room. During the service a young girl sitting next to where we were standing got up and offered Susan her seat.  I wanted to laugh, because I knew what was going thru my honey’s mind……..do I look that old?

Mass was great and before the final blessing there were announcements and as I looked around the church not a single person had left early.  We have found that to be the general case everywhere we go.  There are no early bird specials here. After mass many of the people went to the cemetery behind the church with flowers for their loved ones.  It was great to see.

Getting cash so we can pay for our lodging
Getting cash so we can pay for our lodging

We then went to the bank to get some ammo so we could pay for our stay in cash and then we stopped at the market and got some ribs for dinner, we were not going anywhere else today.

We spent a leisurely day at the house and had breakfast around noon and dinner at 7.  We accomplished a few things today but mostly relaxed and did it feel goooooood!

 

We only saw our hosts, John and Dana, once today as we were leaving.  We have spent a lot of time with John outside in the back since his English is very good.

Groundhog day for sure this time
Groundhog day for sure this time

Besides solving the problems in the world we discussed what he was going to do about his groundhog problem.  It had created new mounds everyday and reminded me of the movie Caddy Shack, because that’s how I would have been. (I didn’t tell him about our groundhog problem) Susan suggested they name him, Dana did, and no we call him Max. There were 5 fresh new mounds today, oh boy! That’s all I remember.

Monday Day 14 Kalwaria & Sanctuary of the Weeping Madonna

This morning we slept till 7:30…….we had gone to bed at 8:30 last night, I guess we were tired.  I didn’t make breakfast because neither of us was hungry.  After the usual prep for the day we headed out around 10 for Kalwaria and the Sanctuary of the Weeping Madonna, Our Lady of Calvary.  She shed tears of blood and veneration quickly became widespread and each year almost a million pilgrims come to pray and submit their petitions to Our Lady.  Today we were two of them.

The Calvary extends for five miles and the walk of Mary goes high into the mountains.  There was no way we could have done it today or maybe forever, as much as we had wanted to, since being here 2 years ago on a short stop to the airport.

First Holy Communion in the church
First Holy Communion in the church

We spent a lot of time on the grounds and in the church, including mass at 11 with a lot of First Holy Communion children. The sermon was so verrrry loooong that the next group was coming in before the final blessing.  I think I even dozed off. Oop’s

We were hungry now so we went to the restaurant on the grounds and had lunch.  It was very good and I am ashamed to tell you how much it cost, so if you want to know send me an e-mail.  We had a 2 PM reservation in Wadowice at the birth place and child hood home of St. John Paul II thanks to our friend Fr Tomasz since we waited to the last minute.

He reserved for us an English speaking tour, and I much as I dislike this stuff, I had tears in my eyes most the way.  What an experience to touch his sofa and bed and crosses and to see how he grew up in this modest apartment. It was so beautifully done and the hour flew by.  His life was one of tragedy and joy and he gave up what he loved most, acting, to become a man of God. A Saint for our times and a great advocate he has become for us. (Lots of photos).

 

 

Editor’s note:  Looking at some of these photos is a reminder of how young and vigorous (only 58 ) this Pope was when first elected.

Baptismal font where JP II was baptized
Baptismal font where JP II was baptized

 

The Basilica next door has a special chapel for his Baptismal font, another for Saints Pio, Stanislaus, Kolbe and Simon of Lipnica with relics for each.  The St. John Paul II chapel also has a relic and the other chapel across from St JPII is the chapel of Miraculous painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The Basilica is named after the Presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

We lit candles here for all your intentions
We lit candles here for all your intentions

 

There is a side chapel in honor of Divine Mercy so what better place to pray the Chaplet, plus there were 2 chairs in front of the altar and a painting of Our Lord.

We Lit candles there for all of you.

Editors note: you can still add your name to their prayer intentions by emailing them at tsmelillo13@aol.com.  

The "Pope's Cake" is a tradition here
The “Pope’s Cake” is a tradition here

 

This was again our 2nd visit to this village but this time we left with a much greater sense of the Saint and what it means to be holy.

We departed after we stopped for a piece of Pope cake, as they call it, since it was St. JPII’s favorite and renamed it after he became Pope.

 

It was back to Kalwaria, about 20 minutes away to spend a little more quite time at the shrine.  We figured the buses would all be gone by now and we could pray our rosary in the Chapel of the Weeping Madonna. We started there but moved just outside in the main sanctuary to finish for some people we coming in to pray and we didn’t want to disturb them.  The Basilica is where St. JPII’s father took him after his mother died, when he was 9 and here is where he developed a great love for Our Blessed Mother.

A few more photos and we left for home as we call it, for it is so comfortable.  John was outside and we all talked for awhile, had a glass of wine together and then Susan & I noshed on some leftover ribs, cheese and pate and then it was to work, to begin repacking and preparing for tomorrows’ journey to Zakopane in the Tetra Mountains. YEAH!

Editor’s note:  Tom loves to drive those winding mountain roads…..Sue, not so much.

John told us to stay as long as we like so we decided not to rush in the morning and maybe sleep in. Any way it’s 10 PM and I’m still typing, so I’m calling it a night after this truly magnificent day.

God Bless you all;

Love

Susan & Tom

 

 

Tom & Sue Final day of their 33 day pilgrimage to Spain & Poland

Hello, Hi, Good morning, Good evening (We miss dzein dobry)

Well, we’re home and the trip to get here was just long and depressing. Did we ever tell you we love Poland? The hotel we stayed at in Paris worked out and we got out the door before 6:30 A.M. …, 12:30 AM our time. We took the 6:30 shuttle to the airport and were alone in the van. The driver took us right to our gate door entry, he was a really nice kid, and we checked in and were in the Admirals Lounge before 7:30. It was great and we relaxed, sent a trip report out and had a lovely breakfast.

The long flight home
The long flight home

Our flight left on time, but we were 13th in line and when we finally took off there were 25 other planes behind us. Charles de Gaulle Airport … UGH. They changed the plane we were supposed to fly on, and it was not as comfortable as the 777 that it was supposed to be, but it was fine. We made New York on time and transferred our luggage and had about and 1 ½ hours before our flight to Miami. Again, we left on time and we were only 11th in line this time … I love small airports.

We arrived in Miami at 8:30 PM and it took over an hour to get our rental car, but we tried to remain calm and finally we got on the road to Palm Beaches and got home round 11:30 PM, a 24 hour day anyway you look at it. No unpacking … only a glass of wine and into bed and that’s all I remember.

We woke up around 7:00 AM, had coffee and went to Mass at Miracle House Chapel. After Mass, it was home and Susan started to unpack and I went to the store for some groceries and sticker shock ($$$$$$) after being in Poland.

We couldn’t make 8:00 PM that night and we were up on Sunday at 6:00 Am and went the 8:45 Mass at the Cathedral, since we were Eucharistic Ministers this week. It was so nice to see so many of our Cathedral “Family” and we spent a lot of time after Mass with them.

We went home and Susan continued to re-organize us. I went to pick up a few more things (we are taking this easy). Bed time came again early around 7:30 PM but we did sleep until 7 AM and jet lag has finally gone away.

We hope that you all have enjoyed this Pilgrimage. It was our 9th and, by far the best. It was the least aggressive we have done, as the old bodies become less resilient.

Editor’s note:  Their idea of “less aggressive” is pretty aggressive by our standards…they are an inspiration to us.

Our family in Spain are always a must to be with and we never seem to have enough time with them. They are loving and wonderful. Poland, especially Krakow, has become another home for us and it’s because of our beloved Saint John Paul II, the Divine Mercy Shrine, Fr. Tomasz, the Cardinal and all the Sisters we have become so fond of. Everywhere we have gone over the years have been experiences we will never forget.

Although we have, unfortunately, returned to reality, we have made a decision to continue our daily lives “on Pilgrimage” as we have for the past month and we will continue to pray for all the intentions we were blessed to be entrusted with by all of you. We already look forward to our next adventure in “2018” – “Si Dios Quiere”!

God Bless

Love

Susan & Tom

Exaltation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, in this tragic hour of the world’s history, we entrust and consecrate ourselves to your Immaculate Heart, our only refuge, our hope, our salvation. Have pity on this world, torn by the most terrible conflicts, burning with the fires of hate, victim of its own sins. May your heart be moved at the sight of so much ruin, pain and sorrow.

We consecrate to your maternal heart our persons, our families, our country and the whole of humanity. Protect and save us!

O Heart of Mary, source of true love, fill our selfish hearts with divine charity and with that true brotherly love without which there can never be peace. Grant that men and nations may understand and fulfill the precept of your Divine Son, LOVE ONE ANOTHER, in order that true peace may be firmly established in the Justice and Truth of Christ.
Amen.

 

 

Tom & Sue Final Day in Krakow then on to Paris

Bon jour:

Yes we are in Paris, well almost, I couldn’t sleep so I thought I would catch up on our final day in Krakow.  By the way Susan is sleeping and I envy her.  5  AM came early again and today it wasn’t easy getting out of bed, less than 5 hours sleep doesn’t cut it but we had to see our friend once more before we leave and what better way than at his morning mass for the Sisters.

Sue with Mother Superior
Sue with Mother Superior

We met and walked about 15 minutes to a non descript building and Fr. Tomasz rang the bell and we were buzzed in, we put our jackets in another room and met the Mother Superior of the order.  She was so sweet and young for such an important position.

They directed us into the chapel and Fr. Tomasz said, “I think you will fit in the pew” and he was right, I almost fit.  I did manage to sit and stand but I had to get out to kneel in the aisle.  The Sisters were all behind us and I’m sure they found it amusing seeing this big man trying to navigate this tiny pew…..Susan and I did, and so did Father.  We had the precious blood again today and the Sisters sang in Latin, I think Fr. Tomasz told them we didn’t understand Polish but some Latin, yes.  At the prayers of the faithful Father finished with a prayer for our safety on our travels home and told us in English when they finished.

Before we left Sister gave us prayer cards of their founder who was beautified in 2013. We thanked them and left and we both felt great……being around holy people will do that to you. We walked with our friend to his office and it was hard to say goodbye, but we know we will him again….Si Dios Kyrie.

Made an omlett turned out pretty good
Made an omelet turned out pretty good

We stopped for an extra large cappuccino on the way back to the apartment and between that and the 2 espressos I had this morning, I was flying.  Susan did the final packing and I finished the Day 6 report and got it out, I made breakfast, an omelet with all the stuff left in the fridge, it turned out really good.  We planned to go back to Divine Mercy on our way out but it was after 12 and I had to get Jag back by 1 PM.  I did enjoy the car the gas mileage was super and the pickup and speed, well, you know. But did I ever tell you I really loved that Mercedes 2 years ago?

We checked in for our flight and went outside to enjoy a little more sun and the cool breeze before going thru security. We had a beer and a glass of wine before we got on the plane, since I had a few Zolty left and we left Poland with 50 cents left.  We got stopped at security because I had our water pick in the carry-on and he asked what it was, I wanted to say a gun, but knew better so I tried to explain and he went to the computer and checked it out. We still have the pick, so I guess he found it on-line, maybe he ordered one from Wal-Mart.

We will be in Paris around 5:30 this evening and our flight is at 11 AM tomorrow morning.  We had to fly to JFK because we left from Paris and one of our business class seats I got with mileage (and they don’t make it easy to use the miles your way).  We have a nice hotel and a room for 3 with large double and a single…..we will see, every large double we have had could only sleep one, that’s why I booked larger rooms with extra beds.

Well back to reality, did I ever tell you I hate Charles de Gaulle……not the guy, the airport.  Their hotel shuttle system leaves something to be desired and we waited over an hour for the shuttle because the first one that came people were pushing and shoving to get in and we were in line first.  The first shall be last, we are trying to keep our pilgrimage peacefulness.

At least the bed was a decent size
At least the bed was a decent size

This hotel was the biggest miss I have made in a long time, this place is away from it all, food,wine  or even a grocery.

It’s only an overnight so we are roughing it with a pizza……we hope it gets here before we fall asleep.  The beds are comfy and I hope to be in bed soon.

 

It’s been a long day and even longer with the joys of traveling.  That’s all I care to remember for today.

PS their vending machines are broken, but the pizza just arrived.  Good night

God bless you all

Love

Susan & Tom

 

Tom & Sue Day 6 in Krakow Cardinal Dziwisz, Stories of St John Paul II & More

 

Diezn Dobry:

I got up early this morning, 7, this was going to be a tough day, our last full day in Krakow and it was jammed packed. I didn’t wake Susan until 8 and we had coffee together and tried to figure out how to stay for another month or so.  Ha Ha.

We had planned to go to the JP II Center for noon mass and meet Fr Paul after to purchase our ex-voto  and we wanted to visit some Basilicas and Shrines first, plus we needed to get chocolate chip cookies for Cardinal Dziwisz, who had invited us thru Fr. Tomasz for a visit at his residence tonight at 6.  Jane from EWTN told us a story about how St. John Paul II loved chocolate chip cookies and the Cardinal would help him eat them.  The last time she was here the first thing he asked her was “where are the cookies?”. We found out from the Cardinal later that she made them.

We headed around 9 for cookies and to go to St. Francis Church and pray our Rosary in the JP II’s pew and to our surprise, when we entered the Basilica, an English Mass had started on the main altar.  We were in and it was great to attend mass again and know every word that was said although we do love the Polish Masses and can even sing along with certain songs.  We found out after that these pilgrims were from Philly and were headed for Warsaw today.

Lots of young children at the Masses here in Poland
Lots of young children at the Masses here in Poland

Susan and I went to the rosary pew of St. John Paul II and began our rosary until a group of children came in and we moved so they could all sit in the pew.  We continued our prayers a few pews up and it seemed we were surrounded by all these young and beautiful children and we smiled knowing that the youth we so very important to our Saint.  They noticed that we were praying and we had a Rosary in our hands and we hope we set an example for them.

 

Not in a rush now to go to mass, we went to St. Mary’s Basilica and to get a closer look at the depiction of the life of Mary at the main altar.  We have seen this before and it is always roped off so you can only get so close and I have photos of it but they had a notice that at 11:30 at the pilgrim entrance you could get up close. It was early, so we went on the cookie hunt to no avail, and stopped for a cappuccino.

It was time to go back to St. Mary’s and we got in this small line and then realized you had to pay to get in, ok 20 pln later we had our tickets and stood back in line. Behind us a large tour group came and then more people behind them and the door finally opened late.  We went in and the closest we could get was in the back where I had taken my pictures before. Then came some pushing and shoving and loud talking and I had a camera around my neck and a employee came up and told me 5 pln if I wanted to take pictures.  I was done, I hate tours and this one hadn’t even begun and we didn’t know what language they would talk in.  We made our way out and I snapped a couple of shots so you could see this masterpiece, since my other photos are at home.

We went cookie hunting again and found a store on our way to St. Joseph’s church and the miraculous painting of him with Jesus.  We had been there before twice, but never knew about the Painting.  Every time we had gone in the big Iron Gate was locked but Eucharistic Adoration was always available from the back.  Today was the same but the Bernadine Sisters were praying and singing from a side room near the altar and that made the visit even more special.

Meatless pizza for lunch
Meatless pizza for lunch

After we went to another favorite restaurant, Corleone’s, right up the street and shared a small meatless pizza……it’s Wednesday.  It was back to the apt. to get all the things we needed to get blessed and to head to The St. John Paul II center to meet with Fr. Paul.  We decided not to carry the large bag with us to the Cardinals’ apartment and then have to drag it to dinner, so we asked Fr. Paul to do it at our meeting.  We sat with him and gave him all the information he needed and we gave him all our intentions, since they wouldn’t fit in the box at the altar.  He look nervous and asked if had to read them all when they pray after mass and offer them up to Saint John Paul II’s intercession and I told him just the intention I put in the box that would cover everyone, He was relieved.

The original marble slab that covered the tomb of St. John Paul II in Saint Peter's
Touching he original marble slab that covered the tomb of St. John Paul II in Saint Peter’s

We finished our business ordering a plaque for the shrine and we were very happy that it would be right outside the door to his original Tomb stone from Rome which also is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. I then asked him to bless our things and he said wait, ran out, and when he returned he had a large framed photo of Saint John Paul II and an in-scripted and signed acknowledgment of gratitude from the Cardinal for our ex-voto donation.  I am going to have to re=pack when we get back.

We said our goodbyes and headed for the St. Faustina Shrine and the chapel of Divine Mercy.  We prayed our chaplet and again reverenced the relic and we left for home.  It was after three and we had things to do before we met with Fr. Thomaz at 6 PM.

We repacked the large suitcase and tried to figure out what we needed for the next 2 days.  Before we knew it was time to get ready and at 5:45 we were out the door.  Fr. Tomasz was right on time, at the Palace and we walked thru the park to the Cardinal’s residence and the street he lives on now is the most beautiful in Krakow.

When we got there we were greeted by his private aide who was Italian and Buona Sera worked.  He spoke a little English and was very nice.  The Cardinal came out of his living room and greeted us with 3 Polish kisses each.  Susan tried to kiss his ring but he wasn’t going to allow that.  We went in and sat and he looked so good.  Retirement even though he is busy suits him well.  I told him that and he laughed.  We started to talk and he said I do speak English so we spoke in English, but Fr. Tomasz did have to interpret at times because the Cardinal shared a lot of private things about St. John Paul II and we could feel the love he has for him as he spoke.

He told a little about the Saints’ spiritual life and relationship with God and the Blessed Mother.  We talked about the day the Saint was shot and that the bullet that went thru the Pope should have hit him but just dropped on the floor of the car between him and the Pope.

Editor’s note:  Cardinal Dziwisz was formerly Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary.  Click here to read a great article he wrote titled “The Day the Pope was shot” from the National Catholic Register, June 2001.

He told us that many reports of Miracles thru the intercession of Saint John Paul II come in every day and we promised to send him ours.

Editor’s note:  Tom credits his cancer recovery to the intercession of Saint John Paul II.  If you have not read his story, click here.

We discussed America and the spirituality of the American people and we talked about so many things, before we knew it, it was 7 and we were late for our dinner reservation just down the street. Fr. Thomasz took a couple photos as the Cardinal gave some us 4 special Rosaries with Saint John Paul II’s crest as well as his crest plus re-supplying our relic cards.

It was time to go and we each got 3 Polish kisses again and a special blessing from him and said good-bye for now.

Dinner with Father Tomasz
Dinner with Father Tomasz

We were at the restaurant in 3 minutes and they gave us a great table in this lovely setting outside in the courtyard. We ordered a bottle of wine and dinner and the fun began, we laughed all night, I was my usual stupid self with the wait staff and some of the guests and we had a great time.

Dinner was delicious and we even had another bottle of wine and dessert.

When we left, Fr. Tomasz laughingly said this was another place he couldn’t go back to because of his very crazy American friends, but he did say he was learning from me.  I don’t know if that is good or bad.

Before we said goodnight, he invited us to mass in the morning at a private chapel with the same order of Sisters that we saw on Tuesday.  We then hugged and kissed and we went our separate ways to home.  Now it was dark, so this was unusual for us and I was afraid to look at the time.  I didn’t care it was a great night and we can sleep on the plane tomorrow on our way to Paris.

Susan and I laughed for almost another hour about the day and finally at 12:30 AM we got in to bed and that’s really all I remember.

God bless all of you

Love

Susan & Tom

Prayer

 

Spiritual Mother of Mercy, True Queen of Angels, Pray for me, Pray for all people on Earth that we bend our wills to your loving guidance now.  Please Pray with me now.  Show me God’s Perfect Will for me today.

 

Tom & Sue Day 5 in Krakow Divine Mercy Shrine & St John Paul II Centre

I was very refreshed and ready for another day.  I let Susan sleep for another hour and when she got up we had breakfast and showered and watched a little news and as we finished downloading photos and picking out ones we will send.  At 11:00 we left for the St. John Paul II Center where we were going to mass at noon.

Fr Paul quzzing the First Holy Communion class
Fr Paul quzzing the First Holy Communion class here in the John Paul II Centre

After our traditional cappuccino, we went into the shrine and walked thru some of the special chapels and said a few prayers until it was time for mass.  There wasn’t a First Holy Communion today but there were quite a few children in training for theirs and Father Paul quizzed them at the homily and they did pretty good.  Now, you are probably wondering how we knew the priests’ name….we didn’t, but we did meet him after, as Fr. Tomasz told us to go to the Sacristy and ask for him.

We wanted to purchase an ex-voto in gratitude for the miracles St John Paul has given us over the years, including Katrina who couldn’t speak but now does and in answering Susan’s prayers for me.  The first priest we met was him and after we explained everything to him he took us to where the ex-voto would be and we went up to his office and planned to meet him Wednesday at 1 to 2 PM, we needed money.

Perpetual Adoration at the Shrine of Divine Mercy
Perpetual Adoration at the Shrine of Divine Mercy

We left the shrine and went to the Divine Mercy Shrine, another of our favorite places in Krakow; it is very close to the JP II Center.  We went directly to the chapel where there is 24 hour adoration all the time and one of the Sisters are always present.  This is very holy place and we love to pray Our Divine Mercy Chaplet here as we have done so many times.

 

 

Praying at the Shrine of Divine Mercy
Praying at the Shrine of Divine Mercy

There was a sister behind us during our stay and she smiled at Susan and me as we left as if to say thank you, since this wasn’t a photo op our tourist stop for us, she knew what we were doing.

Before leaving we went to the altar where the remains of Saint Faustina lie and where she had encounters with Jesus many times.  We reverenced her relic and thanked her and our Lord for this wonderful devotion that St. John Paul II made into a worldwide phenomena and is practiced by so many people.

Editors’ Note:  The painting of Divine Mercy you see here is a copy, the original painting of Divine Mercy is actually in Vilnius, Lithuania (click here for that story).

 

The family plot of Pope John Paul II
The family plot of Pope John Paul II

From here we went to the military cemetery where the mother, father and brother of St. John Paul were buried, we had to thank them for our Saint. When we left we were only 6.8 kilometers from our hotel and it was the looooooooooongist drive we have had.  It took almost an hour with traffic, but who was in a hurry.  Today the temperature was 94, the hottest day we had, and the day we arrived it was in the 40’s one of the coldest days of our trip. That’s Krakow!

 

Back at the apartment we started to pack and that was a bummer, but we read some e-mails and one from our cousins Joan and Lou made us laugh so hard.  She innocently said we may need weight watchers when we get back because of the 5 meals on Sunday and all the food on the trip and little did she know she was right, since we were laughing about the weight gain in the morning.

Pew at St. Francis Church where John Paul II prayed
Pew at St. Francis Church where John Paul II prayed

We had tomorrow and Thursday morning, but the time has been flying by.

We were going tonight to St Francis church to pray our Rosary in the pew that is clearly marked; where Saint John Paul II did every day he was in Krakow as a priestand in the Palace as the Archbishop.

From there we had planned to try a new restaurant that had an interesting menu.

New restaurant we wanted to try
New restaurant we wanted to try

The restaurant had a courtyard dining area and it was cool and inviting.  There was only one waitress and she got swamped right after we got our wine and had ordered.  The oriental family next to us had said hello but that was all they knew.  We won the heart of their son and he became a real pest, I think he was a little spoiled but he was fun.  We met another couple from Chicago and had a nice conversation with them.  Our food arrived and we were done talking, time for eating and was it good and was it large. We took some home.

Back at the apt. we continued to pack and I started this trip report.  I got 2 lines done, Susan got the large suitcase done, and I sneaked in part of a movie on TV. Time for bed, and so we did, and that’s all I remember.

God Bless all of you

Love

Susan & Tom

Tom & Sue in Krakow Day 4 Mass with Fr. Tomasz

From Tension To Tranquility

 

God added:  “This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the Covenant between Me and you and every living creature with you:  I set My bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the Covenant between Me and the Earth … as the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and recall the everlasting Covenant that I have established between God and All Living Beings … all Mortal Creatures that are on Earth.”

 

— Genesis 9:12-16

 

Deizn Dobry:

It was tough getting up this morning, 5 AM came very early.  A couple cups of coffee and we could at least find the shower and the cold water revived us. Today was special, were are going to mass at the Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist and our dear friend Fr. Tomasz is presiding.  All the time we have known him, we have never been able to attend mass where he was the celebrant.

This 6:30 AM mass he does every day for the Sisters of the Presentation, and today they invited us, and they were treating us to breakfast after mass.  This is where the second box of candy gets dropped off.  We have been to mass with the Sisters at the Archbishop’s Palace last year at the chapel where St. John Paul II was ordained and Cardinal Dziwisz had invited us and presided.  That was 6:30 AM too, they get going early here.

Walking the Old Town of Krakow at 6 AM is very peaceful and it took about 15 minutes to get to the church.  This beautiful little church holds the treasure of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Grace. The first miracle was in 1633 when She freed a prisoner from his chains after he prayed to Her and numerous others have happened thru the years by Our Lady’s intercession, so we offered up mass for all the intentions we carry.

Mass was beautiful
Mass was beautiful

When we arrived the Sisters were praying and singing hymns and their morning prayers so we knelt and prayed and at the beginning of mass, Fr. Tomasz and a con-celebrant knelt before the altar and we all knelt as they led a series of prayers as the Madonna was slowly unveiled.  It was very reverent and a beautiful way to begin your day with Mary, Our Mother.

 

Today at communion we were blessed with being able to receive the Precious Blood of Jesus as Fr. Tomasz tinctured the Host in to a small chalice and we all received.  This is the first time in Poland and our entire trip that we have received Jesus in both species and we do miss it.

Box of candy for the sisters and breakfast for us
Box of candy for the sisters and breakfast for us

Breakfast was in a private dining and one of the Sisters took care of everything.  They had a wide assortment of food so after Father said grace we all chowed down and talked and laughed as we caught up on many things.  There will be no eating until tonight as we were pleasantly full and so happy to be together with our friend.

We walked back together to the Palace were Fr. Tomasz works in his new role as Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Krakow. We made plans for Wednesday’s night dinner and after lots of hugs and kisses he went to work and we talked about going back to bed.

We decided that today would be hamburger day and we would cook here and spend the day and night in doing laundry, catching up on trip reports and maybe even a nap, but that didn’t happen….we needed to go shopping in order to pull this off, so we did, and getting back into town was slow, so it took over an hour for the trip.  We were now completely exhausted, but still managed to type, cook and do laundry… Susan was around somewhere.

We accomplished what we had to and even watched a little TV.  I called the maintenance man because the TV in the bedroom wasn’t working and he came around 7:30. I half laid on the bed as he did something and got it working.  I thanked him and went in to check it out so I laid down and that’s all I remember until the morning, almost 12 hours later.

May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!

Tom & Susan Melillo
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 (USA)

E-Mail: TSMelillo13@aol.com

Dear God, You are my source, my goal.  I surrender all that transpires in my life to Your Loving Providence.  Thank You for allowing Your Blessed Mother to take me by the hand into your Divine will.  Remember me kindly when I stumble, for You are kindness.  Place me, gently, into the caldron of incense that perfumes Your Divine Love.  You, alone, are Holy.  Blessed be God Forever.

 

 

Tom & Sue Personal Pilgrimage 50th Jubilee Mass for Sister Maria

Power To Be God’s Prayer

 The Holy Spirit shall come upon you. 

— Luke 1:35 

Mary is called the Temple of the Lord and the Sacred Resting Place of the Holy Spirit:  For by the operation of the Holy Spirit, She became the Mother of the Incarnate Word. 

—  St. Thomas Aquinas

 

Dizen Dobry:

Sunday morning 5 AM and I’m up, and the café wasn’t even ready, and Susan crawled out of bed.  You can’t be late for a Nun or it could be arthritis on the other hand. We were early, so we stopped for a cappuccino and water  for our guest.

We arrived at Sisters Maria’s sister’s house right on schedule and there were a lot of hugs and kisses as they welcomed us. All that were there were going to Nowy Sacz for the festivities.  We loaded Sister and Joe into the car and now we had baggage in the back seat again.  The Angels had to move a little.

GreetingsWe headed out at 7:30 and Sister Angela leads us in a short few prayers to protect us on our journey before Jag woke up and we made the 1 ¾ hour drive laughing, talking and getting to know each other in 1 ¼ hours.    Sister Angela has been in Africa as a missionary sister for a loooong time and that is where she met Sister Maria and they have been friends ever since. Joe moved to Italy over 30 years ago and little did we know that the United Nations were going to be represented. Sister has family in Italy, Germany and Poland and friends coming from The USA, (the two of us and her friend Delores), Africa and somewhere else, that’s all we remember, we met so many people.

Meal #1
Meal #1

We were given a warm greeting when we arrived with lots of you know what.  Sister Maria’s family was great and we felt right at home.

They had food and coffee for us and not having breakfast we indulged and it was great.  (Meal 1)   We met many of the family now and we all headed for the church that we could see from the house.

 

We met the pastor before mass and then we all went in to pray and they had a seat of honor ready for Sister for the mass. The celebration began before the mass when 7 young girls came out and honored Sister in Polish with a tribute and we forgot to ask what they said, but it was beautiful.  They presented her with roses and the mass began with a full procession and a beautiful choir.

The church was packed and Sister was acknowledged all through the service, at the beginning, the homily and before the final blessing.  Another group of the pastoral committee came out and they lovingly paid a tribute to her and gave her a large basket of roses and she placed on the altar and left them there.  She did take the red roses.

The pastor invited Sister to speak and her speech was vibrant and we could tell from her heart and when she had finished and returned to her place of honor the pastor stood up and she stood ,”wait I forgot something”.  She then proceeded to thank all of us in English that had traveled from abroad, just as she had in Polish, she received her second standing ovation, and it was really beautiful.

The pastor then as a special tribute and led a procession of the Eucharist as the churches all did on Thursday for Corpus Christi and had Sister follow the procession right behind Jesus as they processed around the church.  Not a single soul left. After the final blessing we hung back and took a few photos and headed for the reception.

They had the reception at this lovely hotel and the banquet room was perfect for the size of the group of about 60-70 people.  She had us at the head table, much to our embarrassment.  Sister said she had the different languages sitting with each other so they would have a good time.

Sister Marie at the banquet
Sister Marie at the banquet

Then the feast began in Polish tradition.  (Meal 2) Chicken soup was served and on the tables there 4 different salads and then they served platters of breaded pork cutlets, stuffed breast of chicken, pork tenderloin in a mushroom sauce and platters with 3 kinds of potatoes. There were 3 different juices and sodas and gas water.  We all took what we wanted and if the platter got low more came, an insane amount of very good food.

 

Beautiful cake for Sister Marie
Beautiful cake for Sister Marie

After that was over they cut the cake made by her niece and served cappuccino, café and tea.We were full and enjoyed every bit of it.  It was almost 2, and I thought it was a little early to begin to say goodbye, until Susan informed me Sister told her to have some desserts before the next course comes out.  Oh boy, I was ready for a nap because we had just eaten a huge piece of this five layer cake that was delicious and I don’t eat dessert.

Meal 3 then arrived and there were new salads with beef and chicken and dressing, Greek salad, Caesar salad, tomato and mozzarella, platters of cold sliced stuffed roulades, five different kinds of hearing in sauces and an aspic of I think chicken and veggies and topped with vodka and since we arrived there were trays of pastries and fruit that they kept refilling.

It looked so good we had to try it.  I almost OD’d on the herring…..it was terrific. Susan picked a little we were all so full.  So it was time for a walk led by sister Maria and her niece, Katia, there were 6 of us and we visited the church where sister received her First Holy Communion, her childhood church, and then we went to the Basilica to see the famous statue depicting the Pieta. We walked maybe 1-2 kilometers and headed back to the reception.  When we got back sister brought her nephew Wojtek over to our table and he sat with us until we left.  His English was perfect and we had a great time with him.  He invited us to stay with him the next time we come to Poland.  His wife was lovely, although we didn’t get to talk to her very much; she organized the day for the family and was very busy for most of the day. We did accept his invitation.

Meal 4 came at 5 on the dot.  This was the hot meal and remember they eat small at night so they served a very large croquette that we still don’t know what it was filled with but it was good.  We did best we could.

Around 6 people started to leave and so did we, Joe and Sister Angela were both tired as were we. More hugs and kisses from everyone, including people we had not met. On the road it was little tedious getting back since it was the end of a long weekend but we finally got to Joe’s sister’s house and dropped him.  We were taking Sister Angela to her Sister’s house not too far away. Finding it was a different story.  Her sister lives in a complex that is so huge with 70 large buildings and one street name so navigating is difficult. After 10 minutes we asked for help and the woman Sister didn’t even understand all that she said but we got enough out of the hand language and 5 minutes later we were at her building.

Sister insisted we come up to meet her family and even though we were tired we parked and went with her.  She is so sweet we couldn’t say no until we met her sister and she had just made pizza for us.  Sister Angela called her after we had been gone an hour and the fresh pizza was made but as good as it smelled, we couldn’t pick up food…….let alone, eat it.

We made it a short visit and departed for home, exhausted and ready for a glass of wine and our jammies which we did as soon as we got in.  Tomorrow we had to be up 5 again so we talked for awhile and I went into bed and that’s all I remember.

God bless you all

Love

Susan & Tom

 

Prayer for the Sisters

 

My Spiritual Mother, please remain in their conscious awareness always.  Inspire them when they are weak, gently speak to them when they are stressed, sing them lullabies of the wonders of God’s Providence when they fall into fear, graciously cover them in the warmth of Jesus’ Divine Love for you and for them forever.  Spiritual Mother, please Pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit of Love upon them.  Bring anew the Holy Spirit of Courage to their days and nights on Earth.  Pray fervently that they may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.

 

 

Tom & Sue Pilgrimage Day 8 Madrid

Cure For Sadness

 

We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God.  Despise not our petitions for these necessities.  Deliver us from all dangers in body, mind and soul.

 

—  Ancient Prayer to the Mother of God

 

Buenos Noches for the last time;

Morning came early and we all got up at 7.  A cup of café and right to work with the final packing, putting the apartment back together and loading the car. Sam took care of the kitchen and garbage and Susan did the girly thing putting everything back as it was and I sat at the computer getting another report going.  It pays to be a writer!

We were off to mass in Colomajaro at Fr Guillermo parish.  We actually arrived early and had time for coffee since the instant wasn’t our cup of Tea.  Fr. Guillermo was at the café with some of his parishioners doing the same.  I think he was shocked that we were not late.  He headed off to the confessional and we finished our coffee and went to mass.  Tony and Carmen were already there since our plan was to have a little breakfast after and before we had to say good-bye.

Unfortunately, he was on confession duty before and during mass, and we would not get to see him celebrate mass again this year, the Pastor celebrated the 11 AM liturgy.  Susan did take advantage of going to confession during the homily and Sam went after communion.  They needed to go to get the Plenary Indulgence we received at Santo Toribio.

At breakfast we had a great time; Tony continued to bond with Sam and had such a great time with each other. During breakfast Father gave us a piece of cloth that was worn by the visionary Amparo when her stigmata happened on one occasion as it did many times. We saw the photos of shirt with the blood stains on the side, shoulder and many on the back.  He wanted us all to have a piece of it and we were very humbled that he would part with it and we will treasure it always.

Finally it was time to go and that took another 20 minutes until we departed.  Such good friends and when we are here they make us feel like family and we consider ourselves fortunate to have met them.  Lot of hugs and kisses and some tears we finally left, happy and sad.

We went to check in at the hotel before going to Consuela and Humertos for a late lunch.  As always she had way too much food but we did manage to eat a good portion of it.  They are so easy to be with and the laughs and bantering were loud and continuous.  Humberto came with Sam and I to gat gas so Susan and Consuela could have some time alone.  They love each other very much and even though they communicate often it not the same as being together.

Fueled up it was time to get back for more hugs and kisses and tears since we had to leave.  They walked with us to the car and 20 minutes later we were off, again happy and sad.

We dropped Susan off at the hotel and Sam and I went to the airport to drop off the rental.  The shuttle from the hotel picked us up 15 minutes later and we were done in less than 45 minutes.   Our flight to Warsaw was at 7 AM as long as they could find the plane.  Sam could sleep in until we were well on our way.  We all got organized and met down in the garden area for a bon voyage night cap. We had a few more laughs and reminisced about our time together before it was time to say good night.  Again another bitter sweet moment that ended this jammed packed week of wonderful times and memories.

I am writing this in Glotowo, Poland and wait until you hear about this day, but that’s another day.  Good Night.

 

God bless all of you

Love

Susan & Tom  Minus Sam-LOL

 

 

Tom & Sue Personal Pilgrimage Day 2 in Krakow (Day 28 overall)

From Insecurity To Confidence

 

Only the person who renounces Self-Importance, who no longer struggles to defend or assert himself, can be large enough for God’s Boundless action.

 

— St. Edith Stein

 

Dzien Dobry:

Slept until 8 today (Susan 8:15) and realized that our plans had changed when we opened our e-mail. Our friend Fr. Pat, whom we were supposed to meet today in Krakow, had a family funeral today so we probably wouldn’t get to see him. We didn’t realize until Sunday that he and his sister didn’t go to the funeral, but his cousin who drove him had to go and they were held hostage because the family didn’t want them to take the train to Krakow.  Maybe they aren’t old enough.

If we had known that we would have driven to them for lunch and long time coming reunion. We were supposed to go there anyway today for his nephew’s First Holy Communion, which is why he is in Poland, but when he got here they gave him the wrong day and it was on Thurs and we were 150 miles away.

We even thought we could go to the airport on Mon. morning to say hi and get a warm hug, but we have plans and don’t know if we will finish in time. We haven’t seen Fr. Pat in years and so we all decided now he has to come back to Palm Beach after such a valiant effort.

We lounged around and I took all the files out, all 3 of them…………we started with 36 and one of the 3 was just full of credit card receipts, lovely, we have to come home soon and then we have to pay for the trip.  Totally depressed we decided to go back to the St. John Paul Center for noon mass.  It was cold and rainy out and taking the car seemed like a better idea than walking.  Afterwards we planned to come back to the Apartment and do some more lounging.  Before we got out the door Susan had pulled out the holy water we had acquired.  The holy water from Ludzmierz water a beautiful rust color and the legend of the well was suspect to begin with, needless to say it won’t be going into our mixture of healing spring waters from Our Blessed Mother from 7 countries and 23 shrines. We have had some of these waters for 11 years and they are all still crystal clear.

Another first Holy Communion
Another first Holy Communion

We realized it was almost 11:15 so we had to hurry and had time to spare for a cappuccino.

There was another First Holy Communion group coming in and we had to laugh, since we always handle and love this at the Cathedral every year and this year we couldn’t, because I was radioactive after the Y-90 treatment.

We made up for the miss by attending 20+ here in Poland.

Editor’s note:  Click here to read about Tom’s battle with cancer and his successful treatment

After mass we went upstairs to pray the Rosary in front of the Our Lady of Fatima statue at the main altar.  She has been present in every church we have been into in honor of the 100th anniversary.  I’m sure we have one at the Cathedral???

Lighting a candle for your intentions
Lighting a candle for your intentions

We got thru the first decade and a large group came in for a presentation and we moved to Our Lady of Czestochowa chapel to finish, where we lit candles for all the intentions we carry.  We actually lit 4 today, since we missed yesterday.  We then went to the chapel of Our Lady of Piekary Salaskie and prayed our morning prayers.

After 2 hours we were on our way back to the apartment since the weather hadn’t changed and we were cold but first we needed a car wash since we were picking up Sister Angela and Joe, the brother of our friend Sister Maria from St. Vincent in Delray Beach, Fl.  She was here to celebrate her 50 Anniversary with the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and invited us to the ceremony on Sunday.  We were honored and offered to pick up guest or family in Krakow.

Washing the car in the rain is great because there is no one ahead of you and vacuuming after in the rain is really stupid, but Jag needed some attention and the rain had stopped, so she was beautiful and spotless when we got back to the garage. Susan ended up in the wash alone in the car and I’m sure I heard a couple of ooh’s and aah’s.   Back now it was 3 PM and Divine Mercy hour so we prayed and then had a drink and relaxed until we forgot we had to go buy some chocolates at the best chocolate store in Krakow, so off we went  and got 2 nice big boxes of assorted chocolate delights, one for tomorrow and one for Monday.

By time we got back our drink was warm so we threw it out and had a glass of wine before going to dinner.  We were not venturing far from home, just across the street was a Sushi Place and it is meatless Saturday` so it was perfect…….well, almost perfect.

Getting fresh and a variety of sushi in any foreign country is hard, except for Japan, and Poland was no exception.  What they had was very good but the favorite things Susan likes, forget it, octopus, giant clam, fresh squid, all the chewy stuff, they don’t carry.  Look, we didn’t starve…..a nice order of shrimp and calamari teriyaki, some tuna rolls and I had an assortment of sushi, things Susan doesn’t eat.  We had beer because they didn’t have saki….oops.  Oh well, our waitress was very nice and we left her a big egg roll when we left.

Back to the apartment to layout our clothes and get set up for Sunday, since we will voluntarily begin ground hog day for the next 2 days.  I set the alarm for 5 AM and that’s all I remember.

God Bless you all

Love

Susan & Tom

Tom & Sue Melillo in Poland Day 18 Krakow Mass at John Paul II Center

Dzien Dobry:

We were out of bed at 7, together (no coffee in the room) and went down for a cup of coffee.  The waiter from the night before was on duty again and we laughed and asked what room he was in.  He was a very educated young man in his early 20 and was studying chemistry with dreams of going to America.

Over coffee we made our plan for the day, check-in was 2 and we wanted to go to Mass so why not the St. John Paul II shrine in Krakow.  I figured it was about 1 ½ hours away so went to shower and pack our 2 grocery bags we used for luggage.  I think we are done lugging all these bags in and out. It actually worked out pretty good except we looked like homeless people.

We went back in for breakfast and forgot the camera again, I think it’s tired too.  They made us eggs to go along with the nice buffet they had and refreshed and ready we paid the bill and got into Jag.  Susan set the GPS and it said we would arrive at 12:10, late for the noon mass. Have no fear Jag is here, we arrived at 11:40 and time for a cup of coffee.

We went into Mass downstairs where it usually is and to our surprise we heard beautiful music from the main church upstairs.  We were excited, for in the 3 times we have been here we never attended a Mass in the upper church.

Click here for more information about the John Paul II Center in Krakow, with some great photos from Tom & Sue’s previous trip.

Today they were celebrating a high Mass and there had to be 20 priest and 2 Deacons.  Mass was beautiful and when the homily started I took a walk to the little boys room, the long way and slowly climbed the stairs back figuring it had to be close to the end.  Wrong, it was another 20 minutes and we really get disappointed………we can’t understand, especially when the voice of the priest is so inviting.

 

After the Mass ended we got in the car and headed for our Apartment.  There will be plenty of time at the shrine and I have to clean this stick I just changed in the camera because all the photos are from last year in Krakow and we have different clothes, well at least Susan does!

The apartment is only 10 minutes away with traffic and when we got there the girl meeting us hadn’t arrived so Susan got out and I went around the block. They we talking and she didn’t realize I booked parking and I passed the entrance so around the block I went again and we were finally in.  This is the hardest part of booking apartments but we are used to it and it is worth it, as was with this place, pretty nice and big.  For the next week we will be very comfortable and the Old Town is just around the block, trust me I know.

Susan unpacked, as usual, all the suitcases for the last time and I went to the market hopefully for the last time.  We don’t know where the time went and every day has been a spiritual adventure like we have never had before.  We didn’t know if it would be difficult traveling the country, especially into small villages and where we knew people hardly or ever see Americans but we made out fine. It has been truly a marvelous adventure we will never forget.

Krakow is like home and we know our way around the Old Town pretty well, so we have our favorite places to go and that’s what we did around 6 PM for dinner.  We left the apartment and after 4 minutes when we got to 3 Franciszkanska, where we have met with Cardinal Dziwisz 3 times and where our friend Fr. Tomasz still lives, it started to rain and it was cold so I did the noble thing and bought an umbrella  (like we needed one, we had 2 of our own in Jag and 3 in the apartment). It stopped raining right after I opened it.  I tried to sell it for 1/3 of the price but I didn’t get any takers.  Hopefully it will rain again before we get home so I don’t feel so stupid.

We got the last table at this Hungarian restaurant that has the best goulash we have ever had, plus a mixed sausage and kelbasa casserole full of wild mushrooms.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, so that’s what we ordered, the same as the last time we were here.  The owner recognized us after we started laughing and joking with our waitresses.  The owner said hello and waited on us the rest of the evening.  We all laughed and laughed, as everyone else in the place was reserved and somber.

I tried to sell her the umbrella when the bill came and I was going to throw in the plastic handle wrap and sheath for free.  More laughter and down right stupidity and then we all hugged and they were still laughing as we went out the door.

Still no rain so I lowered the price and as we passed the stand where I bought it I thought she might buy it back and sell it again for a tidy profit but Susan wouldn’t let me.  We were home in less than 10 minutes and it started raining as soon as we got in the door. We had BBC on the TV and watched some news and checked e-mails, we had a bunch and it was great.  One of our friends sister, whom he had been forwarding our reports to, sent him an e-mail to thank us so he forwarded this beautiful response to us and we thought we would share it with all of you.  Things like this make these pilgrimages all worth while.

I got ready for bed and Susan wanted to watch TV so I laid down to say my prayers and that’s all I remember.

God bless all of you

Love

Susan & Tom