Cardinal Stanislaw Nagy
Within the influence of John Paul II's fatherhood
'We ought to 'consider' our vocation often, and discover anew its meaning and grandeur, which always surpass us. A special occasion for this is Holy Thursday, the day commemorating the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of the Priesthood. Other fitting occasions are anniversaries of priestly ordination, and especially priestly jubilees', John Paul II wrote in his Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 1996, entitled 'Let us consider our call, brethren' (cf.1Cor 1:26).
These words had a special meaning on 8 July 2005 when on the day of the 60th anniversary of priestly ordination of Cardinal Stanislaw Nagy, SCJ, John Paul II's friend, cardinals, archbishops and bishops from various parts of Poland, priests, religious men and women, representatives of the Catholic University of Lublin and of the Pontifical Academy of Theology in Krakow and other higher schools as well as Cardinal's family and friends, prayed in the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow-Lagiewniki.
One could also feel the presence of the Vatican papal family in Lagiewniki. Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz sent a telegram from Rome, assuring of his spiritual presence. He referred to his long friendship between Prof. Karol Wojtyla and Prof. Stanislaw Nagy. He expressed a conviction that the Servant of God John Paul II, who participated deeply in the priesthood of his friend from Krakow, blessed the Cardinal from the Heavenly Father's window. The Vatican family was also represented by numerous Sisters of the Sacred Heart who gathered at the Jubilee Mass.
Witness to John Paul II's life
It is worth mentioning the words of the interview Cardinal Nagy gave to Wlodzimierz Redzioch, Roman reporter of 'Niedziela', after the consistory in October 2003. The words referred to his strong relationships with John Paul II, 'We lived next door for years and had some common pastoral interests as well as our work at the Catholic University of Lublin (we often travelled on the night train from Krakow to Lublin). I think I was lucky to have been a humble companion of his way that ended in the Petrine See' (issue 45/2003). In some way they went common way, which became a papal route: from the tomb of St Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr in Krakow to the tomb of St Peter at the Vatican Hill.
In his congratulation Jose Ornelas Carvalho, Superior General of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, stressed the special choice of Cardinal Nagy as a privileged witness to John Paul II's life. Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, papal nuncio in Poland, said that Cardinal Nagy came to the sanctuary, which John Paul II had dedicated not so long ago, to offer on the altar, at the feet of Merciful Jesus, the fruit of his long charismatic ministry and great scientific achievements. He noticed that the jubilee of Cardinal Nagy fell on the Year of the Eucharist, which is a sign of special calling for a priest. Taking this occasion the Rector of the Catholic University and the authorities of the Faculty of Theology thanked him for his 35 years of scientific work at this university and wished that the Cardinal's ministry would make the kingdom of God closer on earth. The motif of the friendship between Cardinal Nagy and John Paul II reappeared during the jubilee celebration. In his homily Cardinal Franciszek Macharski emphasized that the gathered people prayed for Cardinal Nagy 'through the intercession of the Servant of God John Paul II who loved his faithful friend'. Cardinal Macharski noticed that the anniversary of priestly ordination of Cardinal Nagy was an occasion to reflect on 'conscious and complete fulfillment of love's intentions'. Naturally, it was John Paul II that was a model of thus understood priesthood and he often said 'Rise, let us go!' Cardinal Nagy, who was so dear to John Paul II, had the grace to live in such a space.
Every jubilee is an occasion of thanksgiving and recollections. Cardinal Nagy mentioned people who were so important to him in experiencing the gift and mystery of his priesthood: Cardinal Marian Jaworski, Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, Cardinal Henryk Gulbinowicz, who were present at the jubilee celebration in Lagiewniki. He recollected the day of his ordination 60 years ago, i.e. 8 July 1945. When he was going from his religious house to the convent of the Carmelite Nuns, in which the ceremony was to take place, his sister Maria approached him. It turned out she travelled on a train transporting coal and she stood all wet and worn out as a representative of his family on that important day. In the light of this fact Cardinal Nagy confessed that he had not had the chance to rejoice with his father and he had not almost known his mother. Despite that he has never been alone since in his 60-year-old priesthood a unique Father appeared - Karol Wojtyla. He was under the influence of his personality and one can say that within the influence of his priesthood. He had the possibility to see him praying, and especially in the last years and months of the Pope's life he saw him heroically bearing suffering. It was Cardinal Nagy that wrote in an article for 'Niedziela' that the progressive illness of John Paul II did not only make his cross heavier but the illness nailed him to it. So towards the end of his pontificate John Paul II fulfilled his mission 'from the height of the cross of his own weakness and inseparable suffering'.
One should consider another aspect of his closeness to John Paul II. Cardinal Stanislaw Nagy belongs to top thinkers who know and comment on Karol Wojtyla's thought. He became a uniquely important interpreter of the Great Pontificate of the Great Pope John Paul II. Therefore, in this phase of Cardinal Nagy's life the cordial and competent help of his fellow priests and brothers is so important. He treats his Congregation as his third mother. We have always noticed this concern in our editorial contacts with Cardinal Nagy. We felt it especially on the days of his jubilee. Therefore, Cardinal Nagy could say that he owed everything: his education, formation and various forms of activities to his Congregation: 'I am yours, and you are mine and let it go on'. The mixed Marian Choir from the parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes in Krakow, conducted by Jan Rybarski, enriched the celebrations of the jubilee.
Love your priesthood! Be faithful to it to the end! Learn to discover that evangelical treasure for which it is worthy to 'give everything' (cf. Matthew 13:44), John Paul II, 'Gift and Mystery'
Your Eminence, Distinguished Professor,
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of your priestly ordination we are sending you these words to Krakow. May the Servant of God John Paul II intercede for you to God in heaven.
The editorial board of 'Niedziela'