This Thursday, September 27, the founders of the “John Paul II Project” will be visiting Northeast Catholic College, for a talk at 7:15 pm and a Holy Hour with a first-class relic of Pope Saint John Paul II at 8:00 pm.
The “JPII Project” and its activities have become a focus of the college’s activities because of the college’s devotion to St. John Paul II—the college’s patron—but also because of participation in the JPII study abroad program by one of its recent graduates, Margaret Graves. Following her participation in the program she wrote: “If I leave this Project with one thing, it will be with a greater resolution to be a saint, and the knowledge that it is possible, not through my efforts, but through the abundant grace of God.”
During her time in Poland, Margaret lived in the “Be Not Afraid!” JPII Center and attended classes at the John Paul II Pontifical University.
“Krakow was our city,” says Margaret. “In the evenings, we would have dinner back at the JPII Center together as a community, almost more of a family. Some evenings we would go back into the city, especially if it was someone’s birthday. Lody (ice cream) and fries was one of our favorite evening outings.”
There were afternoon outings to such sites as the Divine Mercy Shrine, Wadowice (JPII’s birthplace), and other sites, as well as weekend pilgrimages to Warsaw, the Tatra Mountains, and others. “They all left their own impression on me and worked together to teach me more about the grace-filled, suffering condition of mankind. Living in Poland for almost two months helped me digest a lot of what I learned about mankind at Northeast Catholic College. To be honest, I am still digesting it.”
Her time at Northeast Catholic prepared Margaret in ways she could not have imagined. “I was constantly thinking about Dr. Harne’s Senior Humanities course during my trip, as well as Dr. Sampo’s class on Modern Ideologies. I never made it to Gdansk, but the solidarity movement was still present. The haunting images of the film “Night and Fog” played through my mind as we visited Auschwitz. How could I not think of Hannah Arendt’s work on totalitarianism when visiting this land that had gone through so much under both the Third Reich and the Soviet Union? The encounter at NCC with the history of the Church and of thought helped me to truly encounter Krakow.”
The mission of the John Paul II Project is to help young people become builders of a civilization of love and truth, through programs that enable them to live in the example of Saint John Paul II. In collaboration with the Archdiocese of Kraków, they have created uniquely Catholic abroad programs in Kraków, Poland that shape the whole person, while immersing students in the life of St. John Paul II. Through classes, community life, prayer, pilgrimages, extra-curricular activities, and embracing responsibility, participants receive a holistic formation experience that enriches them in their intellectual, professional, emotional, social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions.