Special Coronation of
Our Lady of Czestochowa
Coronation held at St. Mary of the Lake Parish
NEW JERSEY (October 2015) – In preparation for the upcoming coronation of Our Lady of Czestochowa at St. Mary of the Lake parish, a three-day retreat, beginning on Thursday, October 15th and facilitated by Fr. Remigiusz Stacherski, was initiated. The following day Archbishop Waclaw Depo met with the Polish School children and 1st grade participants. During the Holy Mass at Holy Family church, the Archbishop blessed and distributed rosaries to every student in the second grade, advising them to pray the rosary during the month of October which is dedicated to “Our Lady of the Rosary.” The Archbishop also blessed the parents and members of the Rosary group who pray for their children as a grassroots parent initiative. The adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was a moment of deep devotion and prayer for all who participated. Saturday, the last day of the retreat as well as the vigil of the coronation, concluded with the Eucharistic celebration and the playing of the anthem of Jasna Gora.
On October 18th, many of the faithful gathered at St. Mary of the Lake Church in Lakewood, NJ to attend the solemn ceremony – the Canonical Coronation. Located on the right side of the church, near the side aisle, was the podium for the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa and the Infant Jesus in red and white colors. The rosary before mass, led by co-organizer Joanna Kwiatek from the parish of St. Mary of the Lake, was interwoven with Marian songs and accounts from the icon’s history. Promptly at 2:30 pm, the celebratory procession began as the Marian icon was escorted by the Knights of Columbus, celebrants and altar servers, children from the Folk Dance Group “Maki” and teens from Lakewood Polish School dressed in traditional Krakovian attire, the color guard, as well as the families who carried the pillows with the crowns.
The mass started with the Provincial of the Pauline Fathers in the USA, Mikolaj Socha, greeting the entire congregation with warm words of welcome. The next speaker, Fr. Piotr Supierz, read a letter by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for Health and Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers at the Vatican, assuring them of his spiritual union with all participants of the ceremony while, at the same time, Fr. Marian Kokorzycki presented a papal pearl rosary as a gift from the Archbishop.
Beginning the mass, the visiting Archbishop from the Czestochowa metropolitan area in Poland, Waclaw Depo, emphasized the title “Mother of Unfailing Hope.” The mass was concelebrated by several priests from Poland, the Vatican and the United States, who were invited specifically for this occasion: Monsignor Piotr Supierz – Secretary to Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, Fr. Dr. Remigiusz Stacherski – Custodian of the Marian Sanctuary in Popowo Koscielne, Fr. Mariusz Trojanowski – Secretary to Archbishop Waclaw Depo, the Pastor of St. Mary of the Lake Church – Fr. Michael Sullivan, Fr. Waldemar Latkowski – Pastor of St. John Paul II parish in Perth Amboy, Fr. Miroslaw Krol – Pastor of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus parish in Linden, NJ, Monsignor Cezary Chwilczynski, and the Provincial of the Pauline Fathers in the USA, Fr. Mikolaj Socha. Last, but not least, the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception from Cherry Hill, NJ were also present.
The homily was delivered by Archbishop Waclaw Depo. Recalling the love Poles have towards the Blessed Mother, he pointed out that Lakewood, NJ is now a part of the beautiful geography of Marian devotion among the universal Polish community. Referring to this sublime act of crowning the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, which became, on Polish soil, the witness of her intermediary mystery between God and man, and stressing the particular challenges posed by secularization of the modern world, the Archbishop recalled that “God can only work where people allow Him to work and invite Him into their lives.” He also noted that “the lack of gazing into the face of Mary, yielding a loss of truth about Jesus who became man through her, prevents us, the people of the 21st century, from penetrating the mystery of God and causes doubt as to the very existence of God and His plan for various events or even natural disasters.”
Concluding his homily, the Archbishop clearly emphasized the importance of human life, pointing out that, “there are certain countries in Asia that can potentially embarrass us, because while we argue in our courts and parliaments as to the exact moment when life begins, concerned primarily about our own personal interests at stake in the matter, they document on their citizens’ birth certificates the official birth date as being the start of the gestational period [i.e., 9 months prior to birth], thereby emphasizing the momentousness and the mystery starting from the moment of conception – does this not embarrass us?”
After the homily, the Rite of Coronation took place. At the outset was the reading of the decree of coronation by Archbishop Waclaw Depo, and then in silence placed the crowns on the heads of the Infant Jesus and Mary. The coronation, which was part of the ceremony, drew to a close with a display of pageantry as Czestochowa’s anthem of Jasna Gora filled the church with great fanfare. Afterwards, the crowned image was moved to the left aisle and placed in a gilded frame prepared especially for the occasion.
Next, after the censing in front of the Image, families present read aloud the act of consecration thereby entrusting themselves to the Mother of God. Then, partaking in the procession of the gifts, were select students attending the Polish school in Lakewood who are with the Children’s Folk Song and Dance Group “Maki”, along with the Knights of Columbus.
The music during mass was provided by the contemporary ensemble from St. John Paul II parish in Perth Amboy, under the leadership of the Redemptorist priest, Fr. Lukasz Drozak.
After the “Ave Maria”, which was sung so beautifully by Cori Scotti, Fr. Marian Kokorzycki concluded the mass by reciting the Oath of Faithfullness to Mary, after which Archbishop Waclaw Depo blessed all the paintings brought over from the homes of the parishioners.
Before the final send off, Fr. Marian Kokorzycki thanked all those present and those involved in the extensive preparation for the coronation. Archbishop Waclaw Depo also joined in by congratulating Fr. Marian and the parishioners for their determination in the pursuit of fulfilling the aspirations of the local Polish community and making this coronation a reality; as well as dedicating a reflection from Fr. Twardowski’s mother – “Son, never be self-important, but always be thankful; gratitude is the spreading of love over the world.”
After the Mass, the celebrants and invited guests attended a farewell gathering before Archbishop Waclaw Depo’s departure for Poland.
A special book was issued to commemorate this historic event. The contents include: the history of the Icon of the Blessed Mother along with the crowns, as well as the history of St. Mary of the Lake parish, its priests, and parishioners.
By Jacek Machura
Translated by: Pawel Machura
Submitted by Kasia Pawka