The Knights of Columbus has established a shrine to St. John Paul II in Washington, D.C. The announcement was made during Supreme Knight Carl Anderson’s 2011 annual report at the Knights’ 129th Supreme Convention.
In addition to the shrine itself, the plans for the site include exhibits on the life and legacy of St. John Paul II, and an exhibit on the Catholic heritage of North America. The shrine and related exhibits are located at the site of the former John Paul II Cultural Center in Northeast Washington, D.C. “True to Pope John Paul II’s vision, and using the story of his life as an inspiration, the shrine will be an opportunity to evangelize and spread the Good News of the Gospel through a new evangelization,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Because of his tireless evangelization efforts, an entire generation of Catholics has become known as the ‘John Paul II Generation,’ and certainly we are honored to continue to spread his profound and powerful message of hope for our country, our continent and our world.”
Previously declared an archdiocesan shrine, the facility took an even greater designation in 2014. On March 19, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) designated it as a national shrine, which, according to Archbishop Joseph E. Kurts of Louisville, Ky., reflects American Catholics' love for the late pope.
The change takes effect Sunday, April 27, 2014, the day set by Pope Francis for Pope John Paul II’s canonization. In conjunction with the raising of John Paul II to the honors of the altar, the facility will be known as the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. The shrine will mark the occasion with liturgical celebrations, a reception, and a gathering of young people.
“The American bishops are pleased to reflect the love of Catholics in America for John Paul II by designating this location a national shrine,” said Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, who signed the bishops’ decree as USCCB president. “This national shrine is truly America’s fitting tribute and remembrance of his legacy.”
Patrick Kelly is the Executive Director of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, managing day-to-day operations of the shrine, directly overseeing its staff, operations and activities.
Fr. Gregory Gresko is Chaplain of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, responsible for the spiritual care of the shrine’s staff and pilgrims.
The Knights of Columbus and St. Pope John Paul II
The Knights of Columbus worked closely with St. John Paul II throughout his papacy, co-sponsoring his Mass at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York in 1995, assisting with other papal trips, providing support for restoration projects at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and supplying resources for papal communications initiatives. The Knights also supported the foundation of the U.S. session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, located at The Catholic University of America.
The Knights of Columbus in Washington, D.C.
For more than a century, the Knights of Columbus has had a history of involvement with Catholic institutions in Washington, D.C., many of them within a few blocks of the shrine. The Knights’ work includes substantial support for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, and The Catholic University of America.