Five Holy Martyrs parishioners celebrate Popes John Paul II, Joh - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Five Holy Martyrs parishioners celebrate Popes John Paul II, John XXIII

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

There was song, prayer and celebration at Five Holy Martyrs Parish in Brighton Park.

The canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII holds a sacred space in the hearts and homes of parishioners at Five Holy Martyrs.

“The emotions were really strong. Everyone was reliving the good times and especially the older people who remember when the Pope was here in the ‘70’s,” said Maggie Strzelec, a parishioner.

More than three decades later, nearly a thousand parishioners came out for a midnight vigil and mass to celebrate the two former pontiffs installed as saints.

The unprecedented ceremony of the first dual canonization of former popes attracted millions to Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City and in Chicago.

“We always watched films about him and it’s not like some historical figure that you have no connection to, he was around in our time, we knew a lot of about him so it was really important for me to partake in the events here today,” said Strzelec in an interview with Fox 32’s Tisha Lewis.

“When I was in Poland, I met the Pope, it was 1983… Actually I was lucky to grab his hand and kiss it, he was walking through and I can still remember the feeling and the celebration brings it back,” said Eva Ewachrzanowska, a parishioner.

“I have a very close connection with the Pope because as a Cardinal he was my guest in San Francisco, my parish and he slept in my bed and he held mass for our people,” said Father Wojciech Baryski in an interview with Fox 32’s Tisha Lewis.

Father Baryski says he feels he was chosen to lead parishioners through this special moment.

“After so many years, I was sent here to lead the people through his pontification in 2011 and now I’m here for his canonization so it is some kind of destiny,” said Baryski.

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