By David Kilby | Correspondent
A new statue of St. John Paul II and a chapel with new religious art in St. Hedwig Parish, Trenton, were blessed by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., on Oct. 19.
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About 800 people gathered for the unveiling of the statue after the 11 a.m. Mass, which the Bishop celebrated in English, while some readings, prayers and songs were offered in Polish. During the blessing ceremony, the parish community also presented the Bishop with flowers and gifts.
While the statue is of a Polish saint, the making of the statue was a very multicultural endeavor. It was delivered from Italy, its marble is from India, and William Farrell of Abby Rose, Inc., in Yardville, did the polishing and cutting. He also inscribed “St. John Paul II” in Polish and English with the Holy Father’s coat of arms.
Father Jacek Labinski, pastor, previously announced the parish was considering getting a statue of St. John Paul II and many parishioners donated to make it a reality.
The larger-than-life statue was delivered to the parish and installed Oct. 17. Julian Wszolek, the parish sacristan who is over 90 years old, unveiled the statue.
The blessings had extra significance because Oct. 16 was St. Hedwig’s feast day. The parish celebrated with vespers and dinner, inviting priests and other guests.
In addition to the statue, many pieces of artwork were added to the chapel in the vestibule of the parish.
The chapel now has a completely new side with a statue of the Blessed Mother, candles and sculptures, and a portrait of St. John Paul II. There are angels holding an open book with St. John Paul II pictures, and verses in Polish and English. On the top left, there is a Polish eagle, and a Pope John Paul II coat of arms on the right side.
“Our parish is a Polish American Parish,” Father Labinski said in sharing the significance of the new statue and artwork to the parish community. “But not only that. For all Catholics John Paul II was a man of faith. For us Polish people, he was from Poland so we significantly honor him. He’s always in our hearts as a Polish countryman.”