Karol Josef Wojtyla, known to his friends and family as Lolek, was born on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. The Wojtyla’s were a faithful Catholic family, rejecting the idea of anti-Semitism during the troubling time in the world. Karol was an avid athlete enjoying sports such as soccer and skiing. With soccer, teams were often organized into Jewish and Catholic sides. Karol would volunteer to play on the Jewish team in an attempt to even out the numbers and skill ability, exhibiting early on traits of leadership and concern for others.
Karol faced tragedy at a young age, losing his mother at age 9 and his brother at age 12. He and his father relied deeply on their faith during this time, often praying to the Blessed Mother that they would be reunited again in heaven. In his devotion to Mary, he adopted the phrase “totus tuus” meaning “totally yours.”
When Karol entered the priesthood, he developed a connection with the youth immediately, serving as a chaplain to university students in Krakow. He was able to lead them to Christ and help them develop a modern Catholic lifestyle. When he became Pope, that connection to youth stayed strong and in 1986, he celebrated the first official World Youth Day, challenging them to give their lives to Christ and inviting them to take a lead in the New Evangelization.
The Academy has created the Lolek Leadership Society to honor our patron saint by recognizing the traits of leadership and concern for other s in our students. It is comprised of 10 middle school students from across the four campuses of the Academy that possess the following characteristics and are committed to expanding these traits: