Rome, Italy, Apr 26, 2014 / 11:36 am
Having traveled 20 hours for the canonization of Bl. John Paul II and John XXIII, Polish youth voiced their excitement for the event, saying that former pontiff is "someone special" for the country.
"I think that our Pope was someone special and he's our pride and we should be proud of such a great man," Kasia Kozba, 18, told CNA April 25 following a Mass organized by the Knights of Columbus, who donated two of their sports fields in Rome for the pilgrims to camp at during the weekend.
Kozba explained that her group had traveled for 20 hours in order to get to Rome, and that the bus broke down in Austria, adding an additional four hours to the trip.
The global fraternity Knights of Columbus have donated two of their sports fields in Rome to Polish pilgrims who traveled to participate in the event, offering a special Mass for them Saturday morning which was presided over by their Supreme chaplain, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore.
To be in Rome, Kozba reflected, "means a lot to me because I'm actually sick and I wanted to come here, but I don't feel really well. So it is difficult" to be here, but "it was my dream and it came true, so I'm really happy."
Noting how this trip marks her first time in Rome, Kozba expressed that she "would really like" to tour around the city, but is worried that "we don't have enough time to visit all of the places, and interesting things."
However just to be present for the canonizations is exciting, because "Our Pope was someone special."
"I remember when he passed away and it was a tragedy because we lost someone so dear to us," but "we all know that he's in heaven and he's more happy now," she continued.
Responding to an April 24 message that Pope Francis sent to the Church in Poland thanking them for the great gift of John Paul II, Kozba stated that they are "proud" of having "such a great man" come from their country.
"And I would like to thank Pope Francis because he's also someone special and I think that he's also going to be a saint one day."
Also present among the young pilgrims were friends Patrick and David, 23, who explained to CNA that they came to Rome this weekend "because John Paul II was a very important person" to them, adding that "the fact that he was Pope made us to come here for the canonization celebrations."
Observing how they were "too young" to really know the Polish Pope and what he did, David highlighted that "he died when we were teenagers so we never knew him like our parents, but still we have the devotion to come here."
Recalling the great emphasis John Paul II placed on the importance of youth in the Church and in society, David noted that this makes him feel close to the pontiff, "because his words are still alive in the Church."
"Every priest keeps repeating them, so his teaching is, like I said, alive – still alive."
Anticipating the canonization ceremony tomorrow, the youth laughed that they "are actually afraid because of the crowds," but that "it's a wonderful experience," a "wonderful atmosphere," and that they are "excited."
Also speaking in regards to Pope Francis' message to Poland, David voiced that "I think I can be proud to be Polish, to be a Pole, because of the huge number of Poles in Rome right now."
"I may feel like somebody special here…and I'm really glad Pope Francis said those words to us."