In 1941, after the death of his father, Pope John Paul II, then known by his birth name, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, expressed his will to dedicate his life to priesthood. In October 1942, he approached the Archbishop’s Palace and made this wish of his vocal. Following this he began his courses in a secret under-ground seminary conducted by the then Archbishop of Krakow, Adam Stefan Cardinal Sapeiha. After his studies in the under ground seminary concluded, he was ordained as priest on All Saints Day, 1st November 1946. His life in priesthood was spent mostly in gaining knowledge about theology and the like.
Soon after his ascent to priesthood, he was sent to the Pontifical Athenaeum of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Rome, Italy, which is also commonly known as the ‘Angelicum’. There he earned a licentiate and then doctorate in sacred theology. This doctorate was based on the Latin dissertation ‘Doctrina de fide apud S Ioannem a cruce’ or, ‘the Doctrine of Faith According to Saint John of the Cross’. His doctrinal work was unanimously approved in June 1948, the degree was sadly denied to him because he could not afford to provide his dissertation in ‘print’ which was cited as essential to earn a doctorate (an Angelicum rule). In the same year though, in December a revised version of his dissertation was approved by the faculty of Jagiellonian University of Krakow and the degree was finally awarded to the deserving Wojtyla.
Thereafter he returned to Poland in the summer of 1948, not exactly to Krakow, but fifteen miles from it, to the village of Neigowic with his first pastoral assignment. The very next year he was moved to Saint Florian’s parish in Krakow. At the Jageillonian University, Krakow, he taught ethics, followed by the Catholic University of Lublin. Karol J Wojtyla’s flourishing dedication to humanity and its upliftment could be perceived by people when he gathered a group of around twenty young people who began to call themselves the ‘Little Family’, and they met for prayers, discussions and also helping the blind, sick and needy. The group grew to more than two hundred members in course of time and came to be known as ‘Srodowisko’ (roughly) meaning ‘milieu’.
He also dedicated time in writing a series of articles in Krakow’s Catholic newspaper (Universal Weekly). These articles mainly dealt with the contemporary Church issues. His life in priesthood witnessed the blossoming of his writing skills, which was manifested more in the years that followed. The content of his poems and plays was inspired by war and communism mainly and were published under the pseudonym of ‘Andrzej Jawien’ and ‘Stanislaw Andrzej Gruda’. This was done in an attempt to get his literary work distinguished and recognized for their merit, and to keep it separate from his religious work that was published in his own name.
In 1954 he earned a second Doctorate in Philosophy where he evaluated the feasibility of Catholic Ethics, based on the ethical system of Phenomenologist Max Scheler. As expected it was first rejected as the communist government barred any University to award the degree to him. He got the degree later in 1957 at the University of Lublin. In 1958, Karol J Wojtyla was made the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow by Pope Pius XII.
Pope John Paul II still makes his presence felt among people through 24 inch bronze statues carved without fault, and that which includes every detail of him perfectly.