The spiritual leader of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lviv of the Latins in Ukraine had an important message to the faithful in Frackville and Shenandoah on Saturday during his visit to churches in both boroughs.

Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, 54, who was the personal secretary for Pope St. John Paul II, was concelebrant at Masses in the Roman Catholic churches of St. Ann in Frackville and St. Casimir in Shenandoah as part of a visit to the Diocese of Allentown.

Mokrzycki, who speaks little English, was assisted by his assistant and translator Szymon Czyszek, who traveled with the archbishop and his personal secretary, Monsignor Andrzej Legowicz, to the United States.

“Rest assured, my dear brothers and sisters, that our dear John Paul hears you, sees you, helps us, and is more help now that ever before,” Czyszek said in translating the homily at both churches. “St. John Paul II, pray for us.”

Mokrzycki arrived in Frackville about 20 minutes after 4 p.m. for Mass with the Rev. Robert T. Finlan, pastor as the main celebrant. Due to the delay, Finlan led prayers and provided the opportunity to everyone to venerate a first class relic of the sainted pope that has been in the church since last year. Finlan held the reliquary that contained the relic so that people could venerate it by kissing or touching the reliquary.

During the veneration, Mokrzycki arrived and vested for Mass, in which he was a concelebrant with Legowicz and the Rev. Edmund Brennan, Girardville. Members of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Schuylkill Assembly 0923 provided the honor guard.

Mokrzycki is a native of Poland and has been archbishop of Lviv since 2008. As a monsignor, he was a personal secretary to Pope John Paul II from 1996 until the pope’s death in 2005. He continued as a personal secretary to Pope Benedict XVI until the pope ordained him as bishop in 2007, appointed him as coadjutor-archbishop of Lviv that same year and installed him as Lviv’s archbishop on Nov. 21, 2008.

The archbishop has written a book on the sainted pope entitled “He Liked Tuesdays Best,” which was published in 2011.

When Mass concluded, Mokrzycki and his entourage drove to Shenandoah and St. Casimir Church, where they were greeted by Monsignor Ronald C. Bocian, pastor and main celebrant. In addition to Legowicz, other concelebrants were Monsignor Myron Grabowsky, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church, Shenandoah, and the Rev. Johnson Kochuparambil, who leads the Hispanic ministry in Divine Mercy Parish, of which St. Casimir Church is a sacred worship site.

When the clergy and altar servers processed to the altar when Mass began, Mokrzycki presented Bocian with a first class relic of the pope. Mokrzycki made the presentation in Polish, with Czyszek reading the following translation:

“Last year we witnessed the canonization of Pope John Paul II. As his personal secretary, and now Archbishop of Lviv, in the presence of the priests gathered here and all the People of God, I solemnly present a part of the holy relics of Saint John Paul II to the Divine Mercy Parish in Shenandoah. May its constant presence in this church become a seal, emphasizing the unity of the Holy Church gathered around the successor of Peter and the unity of prayer.

“Reverend Pastor, please accept this relic, surround it with reverence and present it to the faithful for veneration. Let everyone pray before the relic, through the intercession of Saint John Paul II, receive an abundance of grace and that they may follow him in faith and zeal.

“Saint John Paul II, pray for us.”

A first class relic consists of a part of the saint, such a bone or hair, or something identified from the Passion of Jesus Christ, such as a part of the Cross. The relic accepted by Bocian was a lock of hair, as is the relic at St. Ann’s.

During the homily in both churches, Mokrzycki spoke briefly in Polish, then allowed the translator to read a more lengthy portion of the homily.

“John Paul II was an example of sincere humanity and profound spirituality, the teacher and witness of an unbreakable faith,” Czyszek read. “He was constantly in search of the truth, and was truly an authentic follower of our Lord Jesus.”

Much of the homily related to Mokrzycki’s nine years Pope John Paul’s secretary.

“For me as personal secretary, John Paul was an extraordinary man,” Mokrzycki said in the homily. “He was so many ways like us, yet at the same time so different. I think that what put him in another category was his attitude, his behavior, his way of speaking, his actions. Being close to him, one sensed peace, security, goodness.”

Mokrzycki has a great devotion to Divine Mercy and to Father Walter J. Ciszek, S.J., the Shenandoah native whose cause for canonization is being investigated in the Catholic Church.

A second collection at both churches was accepted to help the Catholic church in Ukraine.

After Mass, Mokrzycki was taken to the new home of the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in the former St. Stephen Church rectory. The sisters moved last year to their new home after the convent next to St. Casimir Church, which also contained the Ciszek Center, was scheduled for demolition early this year due to structural issue.

Mokrzycki then went to visit St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in Shenandoah, the first Greek Catholic church in the country at the invitation of Grabowsky. He returned to Frackville to enjoy the St. Joseph Parish block party, held on the grounds of St. Ann Church.

The archbishop will concelebrate Mass at 9:15 a.m. today at St. John the Baptist Church in Allentown and will concelebrate the Mass at noon at the Cathedral of Saint Catharine of Siena with Diocese of Allentown Bishop John O. Barres. Mokrzycki will present Barres with a first class relic.