For many, Pope St. John Paul II was a beacon of hope for the world. His legacy of joy rooted in Christ lives on in a special way at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Scottsdale.

The newly-dedicated statue of St. John Paul II stands outside St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish in Scottsdale. The parish’s Padre Pio Prayer Group raised $20,000 to pay for the statue. (Lindsay Wantland/CATHOLIC SUN)

A life-size statue of St. John Paul stands in its courtyard. Diocese of Phoenix Vicar General Fr. Fred Adamson unveiled and blessed the statue March 19, coinciding with the parish’s annual fundraiser, Italian dinner and celebration of St. Joseph’s feast day.

Fr. Adamson stated that Pope John Paul lived by the words: “Do not fear, always have hope.” He explained that even in the midst of deep suffering, Pope John Paul remained a witness of hope and peace. This month marks the 11th anniversary of the saintly pope’s death.

The parish’s St. Padre Pio Prayer Group raised the $20,000 to purchase the statue. Nancy Rosiello, member of the prayer group and parishioner at St. Bernard, said her group desired to purchase a new statue for the parish, for quite some time.

Ten years ago Rosiello told her parish priest — Fr. Brian Bell — she wanted to put a statue of St. Padre Pio in the church, in honor of her prayer group’s patron. He responded that he wanted a statue of John Paul, who’d recently passed away. As a compromise, she promised to work on the John Paul statue after obtaining the Padre Pio one.

The dialogue bore fruit. Rosiello’s research revealed many connections between St. John Paul and Padre Pio.

“Once when St. John Paul was praying as a 20-year-old priest, Padre Pio told him, ‘I need to talk to you.’ St. Padre Pio told Pope John Paul, ‘Learn the language and one day you’re going to be the best Pope.” St. Padre Pio worked a miracle for one of Pope John Paul’s friends who was dying of cancer.

The parish now has a visual reminder of the saintly connection. The St. John Paul II statue stands outside the church while Padre Pio, who the pontiff once went to for confession, stands in the narthex, welcoming parishioners and visitors alike.

Fundraising for the statue officially began in December 2014. Rosiello explained that parishioners weren’t sure where they would obtain the funds.

“I told them ‘Don’t worry, St. Padre Pio says that Providence will always come…” In just one year, the St. Padre Pio group was able to raise $20,000 for the statue. “It was Pope John Paul,” Rosiello said. “ He wants to be at our church.”