Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Polish Sourdough

Pope John Paul II often repeated "Live not in fear!" while spearheading the downfall of Communism and encouraging interfaith dialogue--two major events where his leadership helped improve the world. 

The Polish Pope's call to live without fear inspired St. Agnes Baking Co.'s CEO Danny Klecko to improve the Twin Cities' culinary scene by introducing new recipes. Twenty-five years after Eastern European breads couldn't get baked in the Cities, visiting VIPs eat his Polish sourdough. 

Klecko uses that clout to strengthen his community. Here the master baker reflects on how John Paul II's courageous wisdom blessed his own life's path.

 Klecko photo © Inna Valin
Timing is everything, isn’t it? Even blessings need circumstances to line up if they are going to come to pass.

When I began my baking career in the Twin Cities during the late '70s, my entire industry was completely influenced by Italian and French culinary concepts.

As a Polish American, I felt sadness in my heart because I wanted to introduce my community to the Eastern European bread concepts that had inspired me. How bizarre that at the identical moment, another Pole was splashing hard onto the world’s theology platform. You might have heard of him: his name was John Paul II.

Funny, as the planet fell in love with this saintly icon, my career was given a latitude that I’m certain would have never been available if JP2 hadn’t piqued everybody’s curiosity. One of the most influential concepts to have crawled into my mind was his continuous encouragement to “Live not in fear!” It never ceases to amaze me how often he rebuked trepidation throughout his papal reign.

Those words changed my life. Let’s face it, either you trust God or you don’t. Sometimes reality can be just that simple.

During this same time period, I was going through the book of Philippians, and Ch 2 Vs 12-18 seemed to really stick out. The Apostle Paul mentions “Working out your own salvation.”

Now I know we could hash that statement out--maybe argue as to what exactly it meant--but I’m a grandfather, and these days I don’t have time to waste words. I hope you will be kind enough to let me share my closing thoughts:

When I combined John Paul’s message with the Apostle Paul’s, I realized that I wanted to have an impact in giving God glory, so I got down on my knees and pledged to my Father that I would show no fear. I would  go after aspects of His creation that might bring Him joy.

My categories of conquest were baking bread and feeding nuns and dogs if they were ever in need (of course these visions were inspired by Saint Faustina and Saint Rocco, respectively).

My epiphany or mission statement might seem a little silly, maybe even a little crazy. But when I look back at the saints who have impressed me the most, none of them lived in fear. None of them worried about how the world viewed them. They just gave their best effort toward acts that would please God.

With that said, I would like to send thanks to JP2 for his wisdom. His influence not only opened opportunities to me personally, but also gave me a platform that has had no limits.

(And if you are watching me from a majestic cloud dear Pope, I hope it makes you smile knowing that multiple presidents from America and leaders around the world have stopped through my city--and when they have, they are always served Polish sourdough!)

I’m not suggesting that anybody else try my spiritual formulation. I’m just reminding you that God has a wonderful and specific opportunity for you if you are brave enough to grasp it. Thanks Dingo Prayer--it’s always an honor.

Don't miss Klecko's post on trust and the ingredients of miracles.

And enjoy all the goodness by friending Klecko on Facebook.