Soon-to-be-saint has special connection to Wisconsin - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Soon-to-be-saint has special connection to Wisconsin

STEVENS POINT (WAOW) - Not many people can say they were Pope John Paul II bodyguard. But, Stan Potocki can.

We were asked to provide security for Cardinal Wojtyla,” said Potocki.  In August of 1976, the Pope, known as Cardinal Wojtyla at the time, made a stop in Stevens Point.  “He looked at my name Potocki, but in polish it's pronounced Potuski,” explained Potocki. “So, he looked at me and he bowed. He bowed down to me! And I thought, ‘Whoa what's going on?’”

The rest of the day we went out and around with him all over Portage County, just kind of keeping an eye on him,” said Potocki.

It was a UW Stevens Point history professor that arranged the visit.  “He (the Cardinal) was stopping in Philadelphia and because they were such good friends, they called him to see if he would come out here to visit, and he said he would,” explained retired history professor Hugh Walker.  The Cardinal gave a lecture on polish culture, and held a special mass on campus.

Historically it became far more significant then it was when he made the visit,” said Walker.  That's because, two years later, Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II.  “I went up to everybody and I said, do you want to shake hands with a hand that shook hands with the Pope?” joked Potocki.

Pope John Paul II was the second longest serving pope in history. He was one of the most traveled world leaders. And, he had a special connection with Stevens Point.  "He said he liked Stevens Point because it reminded him of Poland," said Walker.

Even though decades have passed since the visit, the memories remain through pictures. Well, at least some pictures.  "I really wish I would have had a camera with me to take a picture of me with the Pope," said Potocki.

At least he can say he's shaken hands with a saint.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WQOW. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's pubic inspection file should contact News Director Dan Schillinger at 715-852-5920. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at