John Paul II, I Love You!
I would like to tell you a simple story as to why we have this picture at the top of our stairs...
Mark and I began our married life with a grand adventure! We graduated from college in May, married in June and in August we set out for British Columbia, Canada as missionary teachers for a Catholic organization called Frontier Apostles. The year was 1984 and we were to teach at a small Catholic school called St. Maria Goretti, in the tiny town of Fort St. James. Little did we know, it would be in this remote part of the world that we would be given the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Our Holy Father, John Paul II.
Shortly after arriving in the picturesque town of Fort St. James, we were asked to be chaperones for the 8th grade class trip to see the Pope on his visit to Vancouver! This was the chance of a lifetime...though we did wonder why the other teachers had elected not to go. Unfortunately, we soon discovered the answer to that question during our trip but we will leave that for another post! Within a few short weeks we were loaded into buses, with our charges that we hardly knew, for the 12 hour trip to Vancouver.
Now as a 22 year old, fresh out of college, I was vaguely aware of the young Polish Pope, but knew very little of him except that my mom really liked him. So I was more caught up in the excitement of the adventure, than actually seeing the Pope. This visit by John Paul II was the first ever by a Pope on Canadian soil and we were to be part of the "over-capacity" crowd that would greet him for "A Celebration of Life Mass" in the BC Place Stadium. Our high perch afforded us a good view of the noisy packed stadium.
So when the popemobile entered from across the stadium we witnessed the "silence" ripple slowly around the stadium and with it, a holy awe. Though I could barely see Pope John Paul II from my elevated seat, his presence was palpable. Myself and many around me were soon weeping as the popemobile passed in front of us. For the next several hours we all joyfully and reverently celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with OUR Pope (papa). This experience began my fascination and love for this humble and holy man that Christ had chosen as His Vicar. And this is why John Paul II has a prominent place in our home and in my heart.
St. John Paul the Great, pray for us!