After Karol Wojtyla’s installation as the Archbishop of Krakow, he came to America to participate in the Eucharistic Congress held in Philadelphia in the summer of 1976. On the last day of the congress, Cardinal Wojtyla wished to meet a friend of him, Monsignor Joseph Gluszek who stays on the mountains of Montana. He planned to give a clandestine visit to his friend.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla maintained his friendship with Monsignor Joseph Gluszek even after becoming the Archbishop of Krakow in 1958. They were in touch through letters. They also had met two three times in Poland during Gluszek’s visits to Krakow.
The people of rural Montana celebrated Wojtyla’s visit. For them it was for the first time that a Cardinal had visited their town. They were quite certain that no other cardinals would be visiting Geyser, which is not more than a dot on the map. The small town had a population of over 200.
While Wojtyla was in the town, he blessed the farming community with his presence. He celebrated Mass with them, taked with the people and eventually reached to his friend from Poland.
Recollecting the golden moments of the cardinal’s visit, Monsignor Gluszek said:
“The people who met him in Stanford, and Geyser, and Great Falls were just amazed, and asked, ‘How can a cardinal be so approachable?’ He was embracing everybody, and they were just amazed…He was just wonderful with the people. He offered Mass for us and for the people of my parish. He preached a little sermon in English – he spoke English quite nicely.”
After offering Mass in Stanford, the people were invited for luncheon with the Cardinal. They also received a chance to kiss his ring as a sign of respect.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s visit to the small town which has more cows than people. St. John Paul’s visit to such a small town exhibits the humility in him and how much he values relationships.