Leading Advocate for Sainthood for Pope John Paul II to Speak at Holocaust Museum Houston

HOUSTON, TX (Aug. 18, 2009) – The Catholic priest leading efforts to canonize the late Pope John Paul II will discuss his efforts and the legacy of the pontiff in a special public address at Holocaust Museum Houston on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009.

Monsignor Slawomir Oder, who is based in Rome, will conduct an English-language presentation of “Pope John Paul II: Builder of Bridges,” to be followed by a question and answer period open to the audience. The Polish-born Oder will answer questions in either his native tongue or adopted language of Italian, but a translator will be present to facilitate the discussion with English-speaking audience members.

The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater at Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District. Admission is free.

Ordained a priest in 1989, then 19-year-old Oder started at the Diocese of Torun, Poland. From 1989 to 1992, he taught at the Pontifical Seminary of Rome before becoming the rector, or leader, of the Annexed Church of St. Mary Immaculate and St. Joseph Benedict Labre in Taranto, Italy. In September 2001, Oder was appointed judicial vicar of the Appellation Tribunal of the Vicariate of Rome, acting as judge for the Diocese of Rome.

Oder was then appointed postulator in the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God John Paul II shortly after the former pope’s death in 2005. Traditionally, a five-year waiting period is required before the canonization process can begin, but succeeding Pope Benedict XVI waived the delay.

The presentation coincides with the opening of Holocaust Museum Houston newest exhibit, "A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People," an interactive experience that allows visitors to follow in John Paul II’s footsteps from his childhood to his role as head of the world’s largest church. The exhibit running from Aug. 28 through Jan. 3 includes photographs, video footage, documents and artifacts recording the extraordinary contributions of the pope to relations between the Catholic and Jewish faiths. It includes about 70 artifacts on loan from 10 museums and private collections that help illustrate the pope's association with the Jewish community from the time of his childhood and how these life-long associations shaped his papacy, the church and Jewish-Catholic relations.

Included among the artifacts on view will be a white Zuccheto, or skull cap, bearing the pope's initials and worn during his visit to Israel in 2000. Also included will be the walking staff used to help him approach the Western Wall.

“A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People,” along with the Museum’s other featured exhibit, “Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews during the Holocaust,” demonstrate that even conflicting religions can come together in times of need and in times of peace.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.

For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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