Visible sign of great testimony
Tadeusz A. Janusz
'Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilisation and development. Do not be afraid. Christ knows "what is in man". He alone knows it', these words of the Holy Father John Paul II, spoken at the beginning of his pontificate, in October 1978, became the spiritual foundation on which Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz called into being and signed the statute of the John Paul II Centre 'Do Not Be Afraid' in Krakow-Lagiewniki. 'The purpose is to commemorate, together with the citizens of Krakow, Poland and the world, all people of good will, the great testimony of Pope John Paul II in this visible sign', the Archbishop said.
On 2 January 2006, in the Krakow Archbishops' Palace, in Franciszkanska, Krakow, nine months after the death of John Paul II, the work of John Paul II Centre 'Do Not Be Afraid' was initiated and its statute signed, the work that Archbishop Dziwisz had mentioned during the Papal Days in October 2005. At Mass, which preceded that solemn act, Archbishop Dziwisz reminded us of the funeral of the Holy Father and the moment when the wind closed the book of the Gospel, which was laid on his coffin. 'For us this sign of closing the book of his life began a new chapter of the presence of the Servant of God in the life of the Krakow Church and in each of us. We want to write the new chapter with him, creating the Centre 'Do Not Be Afraid', Archbishop Dziwisz said. The centre, as homage and gratitude to John Paul II, will be created in the neighbourhood of the Shrine of Divine Mercy, on 7 hectares of land, which belongs to the Krakow Church. Additionally, if the declared co-operation with the municipality is established, the city will give 20 hectares of land, left after the re-cultivated limestone deposits, the so-called white seas, after the former soda works Solvay, located in the vicinity of the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki. In the years 1940-44 young Karol Wojtyla worked there first as a worker in the quarry in Zakrzowek, where limestone for the works was extracted, and then as a stoker in the water purification plant in Lagiewniki. In August 2002, at the Dedication of the Shrine of Divine Mercy, John Paul II recollected: 'During the Nazi occupation, when I was working in the Solvay factory near here, I used to come here. Even now I recall the street that goes from Borek Falecki to Debniki that I took every day going to work on the different turns with the wooden shoes on my feet. They're the shoes that we used to wear then. How was it possible to imagine that one day the man with the wooden shoes would consecrate the Basilica of the Divine Mercy at Lagiewniki of Krakw'.
According to the statute the centre is to spread and develop the legacy, which John Paul II left, to promote his spirituality, culture, tradition as well as his scientific and educational activities and social help. The centre will include among others a conference centre, papal museum, library, exhibition hall, hospice, hospital, rehabilitation centre, family helping centre, single mothers house, children house and sports facilities. The centre is also to perform the role of the place of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, of which John Paul II was a fervent advocate.
Thus the centre will commemorate the testimony of the Holy Father because 'we all want to keep him like he was. With his teaching, poetry, sensibility to beauty, and above all his love for us all and for every man - Brother of our God', Archbishop Dziwisz said.
The centre will follow the rules of the canon law, the concordat between the Holy See and the Republic of Poland as well as the laws regulating the relationships between the state and the Catholic Church. The money for the construction is to come from donations, bequests, gifts, grants and subventions as well as public collections all over the world.
The Council of the Centre, consisting of 19 members, and having its headquarters in the John Paul II Institute in Kanonicza Street, Krakow, is presided by Prof. Andrzej Zoll. Other members are: Bishop Jozej Guzek, vice-president, Fr Jan Kabzinski, financial director of the Archdiocese of Krakow, former Jagiellonian University rector Prof. Franciszek Ziejka and the present rector Prof. Karol Musiol, Prof. Andrzej Golas, former president of Krakow, and Janusz Sepiol, Marshall of the Malopolska District. The Board of Advisors is presided by Cardinal Franciszek Macharski and its members include outstanding figures from Poland and the world. The executive board will deal will current activities of the Foundation and the audit committee will control it. The board and committee include specialists in banking, law and management.
At present the project of the centre will be worked out and representatives of various denominations will be invited to work on the project. It is most likely that Benedict XVI will bless the foundation stone of John Paul II Centre in Krakow-Lagiewniki during his visit to Poland in May 2006.