Archbishop of Prague visited the USA East Coast
Washington: In connection to the Mutual Inspiration Festival 2011 – Antonin Dvorak, which is held in Washington, DC, from September 8 – October 28, a special Mass celebrating the 170th birthday of composer Antonin Dvorak and the 200th anniversary of the year of Saint John Nepomucene Neumann’s birth was presided over by the Czech Archbishop Dominik Duka on September 25, at 10 am, in the lower level Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. The divine service was accompanied by Dvorak’s D-Major Mass “Luzanska”. Following the Mass, members of the Czech-American community held an informal meeting with the Archbishop on the premises of the Embassy of the Czech Republic.
The solemn service at the Washington Basilica was preceeded by a series of meetings. Immediately after his arrival on Sunday, September 19, 2011, the Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka dined with the Czech ambassador Petr Gandalovic and the Czech President Vaclav Klaus who stopped here on his way to the 66th UN General Essembly.
On Tuesday, September 20, a meeting with the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl took place. Archbishop Duka expresed the gratitude of Czech Church for the help it receives from the Church in the USA. Both archbishops agreed that it is of great need to pray for young people that they be open to recognizing their vocation in life.
On Wednesday, September 22, archbishop Duka was received by the Secretary General Mons. Ronny Jenkins along with dr. Declan Murphy who is responsible for help to Catholics in Middle Europe. During the meeting at the USA Bishops’ Conference headquarters, some forms of concrete help were agreed on, especially the possibility to take inspiration in the developing ways of carrying out catechesis.
In the afternoon, archbishop Duka met the renouwned American politologist and author of the Bd. pope John Paul II's biography George Weigel. His work has seen the issue of its second volume, enriched by the possibility to use the declassified archives of the Polish National Security, the German Stasi and the KGB. George Weigel made the offer of having his new book translated into Czech.
In the second half of his American journey, the Bohemian Archbishop visited Philadelphia. On Thursday, September 23, he met the newly installed Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput who has replaced Cardinal Justin Francis Rigalli, the Papal Legate to the Czech celebrations of the 200th anniversary of St. John Nepomucene Neumann’s birth in the town of Prachatice, June 2011. The Czech Archbishop had the opportunity to visit the grave of this Czech born first saint on the USA soil and the redemptorist superior of the Philadelphian monastery where St. John Neumann is buried presented the Archbishop of Prague with a relic of the saint.
On Friday, September 24, the Archbishop met Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish-American professor of politology who belongs to the grey eminences of American foreign policy, along with Henry Kissinger and Samuel P. Huntington. Brzezinski is connected with the Czech Republic through his wife, sculpturer Emilia Anna Benes who is a grand-niece of the second Czechoslovak President Edvard Beneš. During their discourse, the politologist mentioned the crisis of the West that goes hand in hand with the advances of the East. According to him, the crisis is a feature of faulty globalizatio. Extreme Islamism is not a majority phenomenon throughout Islam, he claimed, pointing out that the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia, accomodates at least three religions in peaceful coexistence. The professor also used to know pope John Paul II. very well. “He was the first world religious leader who people of all continents understood as such, and not just Christians,” he said.
On Saturday, archbishop Duka took a tour through the center of Washington with its monuments of the founders and heroes of the USA. At the Sunday service in honour of Antonin Dvorak and St. John Nepomucene Neumann’s anniversaries, Czech-American countrymen from Washington and New York joined the Archbishop in thanks for the gift of life of these two important personages and in prayer for their Bohemian ancestors. The Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek was also present as he had accepted an award for the Best Finance Minister of the so-called Emerging Europe the day before.
In the afternoon, a meeting of the Prague Archbishop with the Czech-American countrymen took place at the Czech Embassy. The archbishop thanked the countrymen for their sacrifice of life in exile and for their support of the Church in their native land Czech Republic. He awarded three of them who have especially fostered the Czech-American relationships with a silver medal issued on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Agnes of Bohemia. The awarded ones were Ray Snokhous, an honorary consul from Texas, Murry Sidlin, an orchestra conductor from Washington, and Jan Tomeček from New York.
The Archbishop of Prague’s week-long visit to the USA was made on the invitation of the Czech Embassy in Washington and included numerous other meetings with American Church leaders, intelectuals as well as countryman communities.