Bishop Richard F. Stika has announced that Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, a longtime Vatican official and the loyal secretary and dear friend to Pope St. John Paul II from 1966 until his death in 2005, has accepted an invitation to attend the Dedication Mass for the Diocese of Knoxville’s Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on March 3, 2018.
Cardinal Dziwisz will also be involved in the second “Conversation with the Cardinals” to be held the following night in the new cathedral.
Cardinal Dziwisz now lives in Krakow, Poland, where he served as archbishop from 2005 until his retirement in 2016.
“Cardinal Dziwisz is an international figure in the life of the Catholic Church,” Bishop Stika said.
“He is a man of history. He was there when John Paul was shot in 1981. In fact, he fell into the lap of Cardinal Dziwisz, and Cardinal Dziwisz anointed the pope after the assassination attempt. When John Paul died (in 2005), Cardinal Dziwisz was at his side, and at the end when they closed the casket on John Paul, the Church has a tradition, a white veil is placed over the face of a pope before the casket lid is closed, and it was Cardinal Dziwisz who placed that veil on the pope’s face at his funeral Mass.”
Cardinal Dziwisz is a close friend of Cardinal Justin Rigali, who served three different popes while working in Rome for more than 30 years. Cardinal Rigali now resides in the Diocese of Knoxville.
“It is always good to see my friend and colleague in Christ, but it will be especially fulfilling to host Cardinal Dziwisz the weekend we dedicate our new cathedral,” Cardinal Rigali said. “I have known Cardinal Dziwisz since he arrived at the Vatican from Poland many years ago. We traveled and worked together, serving the Church for many years. I look forward to sharing the sacred occasion of the Dedication Mass with him and in the activities that follow.”
The Cardinal will also bless and dedicate the new Pope St. John Paul II Shrine that will be located in the new cathedral. Pope St. John Paul II established the Diocese of Knoxville on Sept. 8, 1988.
Bishop Stika extended an invitation to Cardinal Dziwisz (pronounced GEE-vish) a number of months ago, and he provisionally accepted. During further conversations with the cardinal at the recent national Knights of Columbus convention in St. Louis, the cardinal officially accepted.
It is hoped that the cardinal will spend a few days in the diocese and, if possible, celebrate Mass with the Polish community in Tennessee.
Cardinal Dziwisz was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Krakow in 1963 by Bishop Karol Jozef Wojtyla, later Pope St. John Paul II.
He became the secretary to Pope St. John Paul II, serving in that position for nearly 40 years. He was ordained a bishop in 1998 and was elevated to cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
“We welcome Cardinal Dziwisz to the Diocese of Knoxville with open arms and great love,” Bishop Stika said. “We are honored that he will participate in the Dedication Mass for our new cathedral, and we are excited that His Eminence will witness, in a very personal way, the vibrant faith and commitment to Jesus that our diocese lives each and every day,” Bishop Stika said.