Birmingham: Archbishop Nichols celebrates Mass for Polish community

 The new Archbishop-elect of Westminster, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, celebrated Mass for the Polish Catholic Community throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham, at the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham, on Saturday 4 April.

Mgr Tadeusz Kukla, Head of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales, and Fr Krzysztof Tyliszczak, Chancellor of the Mission, were among the concelebrants together with Polish priests who work in the diocese.

In his homily Archbishop Nichols told members of the Catholic Polish community who filled St Chad's Cathedral, that the Mass was being celebrated to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, on 2 April 2005, and to pray for his beatification.

The Archbishop of Birmingham told the congregation, that he was wearing the red vestments that Pope John Paul II had worn when he celebrated Mass at Coventry Airport on the Feast of Pentecost, Sunday 30 May 1982, during his historic Pastoral Visit to Great Britain.

Archbishop Nichols continued: "We each have cherished memories of Pope John Paul II - as a young priest, as the newly elected Pope in 1979 and his many Pastoral Visits to countries throughout the world.

"We remember his vigour, his intellect, his depth of spirit, his faith and his courage in the face of illness and old age. We remember his message: 'Do not be afraid'."

"Pope John Paul II was a modern world celebrity. He lived in the public eye. But he turned 'celebrity' on its head because even when he no longer enjoyed the attractive gifts of his earlier years, he nevertheless held public attention to the moment of his death."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols concluded: "Today we pray that all sons and daughters of Poland will cherish their Catholic faith.

"All Polish Catholics are welcome in this country and in this diocese. You enrich our shared Catholic life and I am pleased to welcome you all today for this special Mass."

Before the final blessing, Mgr Tadeusz Kukla, spoke on behalf of the Polish Catholic Community. He said: "Your Grace, we are especially honoured and privileged to share with you this Holy Eucharist on the day after your appointment as the Archbishop of Westminster.

"On behalf of the congregation gathered here today, the Polish Catholic Community in England and Wales, and more than one hundred Polish priests engaged in pastoral work here, I should like to congratulate you on your appointment. We wish you all God's blessings and the necessary strength in this new and challenging role, and assure you of our prayers."

Mgr Kukla added: "Polish people have always treasured your friendship and openness towards them. That is why I am particularly happy that the new Archbishop of Westminster, and a great friend of our Polish community celebrated Mass for Poland's greatest Son. I am sure that John Paul II, for whom we pray today, will assist you in your new assignment.

"Polish people have always felt welcomed in the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Polish Catholic Community has been thriving here since the post war years."

Mgr Kukla concluded: "We know that as the Archbishop of Westminster you will continue to be a friend and protector of the Polish Catholic community; their religious traditions, spirituality and culture. Please permit us to celebrate your appointment with our traditional well wishing song; it translates broadly: we wish you good health, happiness and all God's blessings through the intercession of Our Lady."

The congregation broke into loud applause and as the evocative singing ended a Polish girl dressed in national costume presented Archbishop Vincent Nichols with some beautiful red and white flowers. It was a wonderful end to a memorable Mass with the Polish Catholic community in the Midlands.


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