John Paul II exhibit to launch US tour in New Orleans

By Kevin J. Jones

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A museum exhibit on the legacy of Blessed John Paul II will begin its U.S. tour at New Orleans’ Notre Dame Seminary in February 2013.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans made the announcement “with great joy and excitement” at an April 13 press conference.

“Receiving this exhibit is not only a great honor for our archdiocese, but an opportunity for us to enter more deeply into our work of evangelization, carrying on the legacy of Bl. John Paul II,” the archbishop said. “Pope Benedict XVI has named the upcoming year a ‘Year of Faith’ and by hosting this exhibit, we are attempting to answer his call.”

The new exhibit, titled “I Have Come To You Again,” has over 100 items from the personal possessions of Bl. John Paul II. The items come from the Pope John Paul II Center in Krakow, Poland and from the Vatican Collections.

The Lubbock, Texas-based National Exhibits Association is running the exhibit tour under the leadership of Father Malcolm Neyland, its president and executive director.

“Never before has a collection of the personal belongings of a Roman Catholic Pope been on display in the United States,” the association said April 13, noting that  during his pontificate, Bl. John Paul II visited the U.S. seven times.

His “immense faith and great courage were inspirational and admired by Christians and non-Christians alike throughout the world,” the organizers said.

The exhibit will be open on the Notre Dame Seminary Campus from February through April 2013. Its contents are divided into four sections: Karol Wojtyla’s childhood and adolescence, from 1920-1938; Karol Wojtyla’s years in Poland as a laborer, priest, bishop, archbishop and cardinal from 1939 -1978; his years as Pope from 1978 until his death in 2005; and the wake of his papacy up through his beatification.

The curator of the exhibit is Prof. Francesco Buranelli, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission of the Cultural Patrimony of the Church. He has previously served as the general director of the Vatican Museum.

Many close advisors of the late pontiff have contributed essays for the exhibition catalogue, including Cardinal Angelo Comastri, vicar general for Vatican City; Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals; Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for Laity; and Msgr. Stanislaw Oder, the postulator for John Paul II’s canonization.

The National Exhibits Association is working with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce to bring the exhibit to New Orleans. Stops are also planned for Seattle, Wash. and Washington, D.C.

Archbishop Aymond urged the local community to visit the exhibit to “experience and witness Bl. John Paul II’s life and ministry.” He also asked for prayers for the exhibit’s success.

The National Exhibits Association is seeking donations to meet the expenses of the exhibit. More information about the exhibit is available at the association’s website

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