Ex-officer Marynowitz blessed by pope

Faith of a hero: Pope Francis blesses former police officer John Marynowitz, of Bustleton, during a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Saturday. Marynowitz was shot in the line of duty in 1993. SOURCE: JOE SULLIVAN

Pope Francis on Saturday morning blessed John Marynowitz, a police officer severely wounded in a June 16, 1993, shooting.

The blessing took place during a Mass for bishops, clergy and other religious people at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan, commander of the Homeland Security and Counter Terrorism Bureau, asked organizers of the papal visit to invite Marynowitz to the private Mass.

“He’s a devout Catholic, and with everything he’s been through, to maintain his faith is amazing,” Sullivan said.

The pope touched the forehead of the wheelchair-bound Marynowitz, of Bustleton. In the background, pews full of priests snapped photos with their cell phones.

Marynowitz and Robert Hayes were 35th Police District partners who stopped a gypsy cab with a defective tail light at Limekiln Pike and Andrews Avenue in West Oak Lane. They saw drugs in the car.

Borgela Philistin, a 19-year-old illegal alien from Haiti, resisted when asked to step out of the car. He began fighting with the officers and took Marynowitz’s gun.

Philistin shot Hayes in the eye and stomach. The officer died of the wounds. The gunman shot Marynowitz in the head and shoulder.

Former Gov. Tom Corbett signed a death warrant for Philistin, but the courts blocked the execution. Gov. Tom Wolf refuses to sign death warrants.

Meanwhile, the Bustleton Bengals are building a gymnasium that will be named for Marynowitz. The gym will be located at Robert Hayes Playground. ••