Polish Community Praises Soon-to-be-Saint John Paul II

By Jamie Ratliff
|  Friday, Jul 5, 2013  |  Updated 6:48 PM EDT
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Local polish community thrilled that Pope John II to be canonized.

Jamie Ratliff, Jon Wardle

Local polish community thrilled that Pope John II to be canonized.

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The Vatican has recently declared that Polish-born Pope John Paul II will be canonized, and for the Polish community, it's a moment of pride.

"I think that's a good idea because he was the best," said Harwinton resident Halina Odorczuk.

The election of Pope John Paul II made for the first non-Italian pope in over four decades. It was an emotional experience for many.

"I cried. We cried. Polish people cried," said Odorczuk.

The declaration of canonization is extra special for the Polish community in New Britain. Pope John Paul II visited the area while he was a cardinal.

"When he was elected pope, that gave a big uplift to the Polish community," said New Britain resident Stan Klukowski. "He did a lot of good both in terms of the Polish people, and I guess in many ways for the world."

"He visited the [Holy Cross] Church and the school, and we have memorials, plaques all over the school where he actually physically was before he became a pope," said Natalie Klimkiewicz, a preschool teacher at Pope John Paul II School.

Pope John Paul II died in 2005 at the age of 84. Known as the globe-trotting pope, he's seen as being instrumental in the fall of Eastern European communism.

While his progression to sainthood is one of the fastest in modern times, many say it couldn't have happened soon enough.

"He's a remarkable man, and he deserves to be a saint," said Klimkiewicz. "We've been praying for it all year."

Pope John XXIII will also be canonized.

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