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'Do not be afraid!'

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Under the intercession of St. John Paul II, we hope to share the Gospel in the larger community with the courage and joy that characterized his ministry.

Do you live with a phobia? While some fear heights, spiders or public speaking, a Chapman University poll of Americans suggests some very different concerns: corrupt government officials, healthcare, pollution and finances. Regardless of what makes us uneasy, in this Friday the 13th edition of the Pilot, I would like to offer a remedy to the fears and anxieties in our lives: the new St. John Paul II Shrine of Divine Mercy.

Best known as a promoter of peace, advocate for the world's youth and voice of social justice, St. John Paul II overcame some of the most terrifying circumstances imaginable. Coming of age in Poland during the Second World War and then living under communist occupation, he grounded his life in the Eucharist and the Divine Mercy of Jesus. As Pope drawing on his life experience, he challenged the world again and again saying, "do not be afraid."

Last week, Cardinal Seán and Bishop Mark O'Connell dedicated the Shrine in the heart of Salem's downtown district. Hundreds joined us for the celebration which included a great feast and time for prayer and devotions. Among the day's best moments, the cardinal gave us a relic of St. John Paul II which will remain alongside another relic of St. Faustina who received the message of Divine Mercy. As the new rector, I felt privileged to serve the people of God at this exciting time.

Our shrine welcomes everyone in the Archdiocese of Boston to celebrate the sacraments and renew their faith. Under the intercession of St. John Paul II, we hope to share the Gospel in the larger community with the courage and joy that characterized his ministry.

As a Pole myself, I feel a closeness to the two Polish saints we venerate at the shrine. I am a member of the Society of Christ for Poles Living Abroad. Although our order cares for Polish communities living around the world, this shrine broadens our pastoral outreach to every person in the Archdiocese of Boston, regardless of ethnicity or heritage. It allows us to share the story of these contemporary saints and invite people to embrace their faith in new ways.

Think about the fears or anxieties that weigh you down. Could you benefit from following the example of Sts. Faustina and John Paul II who overcame the challenges of their time? I invite you to visit us at the shrine, discover the power of the Eucharist, receive the grace of the sacrament of reconciliation, and experience the power of Divine Mercy. Thank you for your support and prayers for our growing ministry.

FATHER ROBERT BEDZINSKI, SCHR SERVES AS RECTOR OF THE ST. JOHN PAUL II SHRINE OF DIVINE MERCY IN SALEM.

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