A Great Witness of Mercy
By Bishop William Patrick Callahan
I am often reminded of what a tremendous mystery and gift the Roman Catholic priesthood is for the Church and for those of us so blessed to have been called by Jesus into this sacred fraternity. I think often of my dear departed priests whose ministry and life has deeply touched so many men and women, and whose legacy is quite alive.
While I did not know Fr. Joe personally, I came to know him through others and through his works of charity and kindness. Today, I think of him as an ideal model for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, a man who embodied the lived mystery of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy (Mt. 25).
I CAME TO KNOW HIM THROUGH OTHERS AND THROUGH HIS WORKS OF CHARITY AND KINDNESS.
The Fr. Joe Walijewski Guild, now in its third year of advancing the Cause of Fr. Joe for Beatification and Canonization, continues to garner support from various parts of our country. Fr. Joe is a person of interest for those who strive to find ways of validating the Catholic faith in today’s world. People have come to recognize in Fr. Joe’s Cause the reality of a man who did not use his extraordinary talents or attributes for the advancement of this world’s wealth. Rather, they are seeing and hearing more and more about a man—a priest—who lovingly fulfilled another facet of Christ’s teaching from the Gospel of Matthew: “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21). Fr. Joe’s treasure was found in the lives of children alone in the slums of Lima, Peru; his heart, being touched by the spirit of
Jesus, was moved to their care. His priestly action is a sign even today of the grace of Christ working in our world.
As the Guild gradually gathers new members, the message about Fr. Joe is resonating with new people interested in his life and in the Cause of his Beatification and Canonization. Testimony continues to be gathered in both North and South America from those who knew Fr. Joe personally. Testimony is documented (in triplicate) in order to be sent to Rome and reviewed by the Congregation for Saints and ultimately, the Pope.
Guild members have helped promote the Cause by allowing us to spread the news by sponsoring screenings of the video “A Pencil in Our Lord’s Hand” in Thorp, Stevens Point, Wausau, and La Crosse.
Donations have been used to sponsor a “Pencil Drop,” where we handed out pencils inscribed with the phrase: “I’m just a pencil in Our Lord’s hand” to all the children in our diocesan Catholic schools. This was done in celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints.
We receive requests for prayer cards every week. 10,000 cards were distributed in 2015 alone! Also in 2015, the Diocesan Pilgrimage tracing the footsteps of Fr. Joe was a remarkable experience for those involved. You can read more about the experience of one of the pilgrims, Dan Foor, in this newsletter.
I am often asked how I feel about recommending a priest of my Diocese for sainthood. I am blessed. What a gift Fr. Joe is for all of us! Let us continue to pray that his Cause will one day return him to us as a Saint of the Church!