WASHINGTON, April 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A former Swiss Guard who has penned a memoir on the leadership qualities of St. John Paul II says the Extraordinary Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis on Saturday is "one of the many fruits of the teachings of John Paul."
Andreas Widmer, a member of the Swiss Guard from 1986-1988, highlighted the importance of mercy to John Paul II as part of a reflection on the pope during a Divine Mercy Sunday observance at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.
"The significance of the Year of Mercy that's been declared as a holy year is the implementation of what John Paul started with the devotion to Divine Mercy," said Widmer. "The whole idea of mercy is getting put into practice. This is the first time we have ever had a year of mercy. In a way, this is John Paul's spirituality taking hold of the Church."
Pope John Paul established the feast of Divine Mercy Sunday as part of the canonization in 2000 of St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who died in1938 after experiencing numerous revelations about the nature of God's love and mercy.
Pope Francis announced an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy during a Vesper service in Rome for Divine Mercy Sunday. It will begin on Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and conclude on Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Author of "The Pope and the CEO," a book on leadership lessons he learned from John Paul, Widmer said John Paul "gave us a theology of work," saying that through work we make "a gift of ourselves and become co-creators with God," sanctifying ourselves and making something valuable for others that points us back to God.
Patrick Kelly, director of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, said Widmer's writing and his work in the business world and the academy "draws insights from the powerful example of leadership that he learned at the elbow of the man he served as Swiss Guard and friend."
Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the Saint John Paul II National Shrine is a place of prayer that also allows pilgrims to learn about John Paul's life and mission. A permanent exhibit, "A Gift of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II," has been in place since October.
Additional information is available at www.jp2shrine.org.
SOURCE Knights of Columbus