A Filipina In Poland Mourns John Paul

By Florie Andrion Oginska

Florie A. Oginska, originally from Manila, lives with her husband Jaromir in Poland.

I was in the garden talking to my brother-in-law when my mother-in-law rushed out with tears in her eyes announcing that the Pope was very ill. That day started to cloud the spring atmosphere as far as the Poles were concerned.

Pope John Paul’s final trip, not to his Polish but to his heavenly homeland, had a sorrowful impact on Poles. The response of the people from the onset of his final illness to his last moments bore witness to that. Regular TV shows were cancelled for minute-to-minute broadcasts of what was going on in the Vatican. Special Masses were offered for the Pope and surprisingly, were really well attended. People lit candles outside churches or in designated spots in parks. It seemed that all the people I knew, even lukewarm Catholics and non-churchgoers, were touched by his departure.

It was indeed touching to see people gather to pay tribute to Pope John Paul. As I sat for almost twelve hours in front of the TV flitting from one channel to another, in most cases not really understanding what was being said for I still lack fluency in Polish, people were shown attentively watching giant screens set up in public places. Very sad people, some crying as if they’d lost somebody personally close to them. For that is how most Poles feel about Pope John Paul II.

Pope John Paul was not just pope. He was truly considered Father not only of Catholics but of the nation itself. He was the catalyst that freed the country from the Communist regime, thus making him more than a Pope to the people here.

One cannot help but feel real sorrow when one is submerged in it.