Today is the 4th Anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death
Okay, so I admit that I might be a little obsessed with Pope John Paul II. I loved (still love) him sooooo much and I miss him. I never met him in person, he doesn't know me from Adam, but I did get to see him three times in my life.
The first time was when he visited New York. I was a junior in high school, and entered a contest to win a trip to NY to see the Pope. I had to answer questions and write an essay, and I actually WON!
There were 16 winners picked from all over the country, they flew us all to NY, and we got treated to a weekend in the City while JPII was visiting. The main event was a Mass he was celebrating in Central Park, and we were all so excited to go...but the day before, myself and another guy were asked to miss out on the Mass in order to be interviewed on tv during that time. I was really bummed out about missing the Mass, and I was so nervous to be on tv, but I couldn't really say no.
We were interviewed, and then because they felt bad we missed seeing the Pope at Mass, they gave us tickets to the Pope's small gathering at St. Patrick's where he was to lead the Rosary. How lucky was that??? Now instead of being in a huge space with a ton of people, we were about 10 pews back from the Pope with only a small group of people.
When Pope John Paul II walked by my pew, I leaned over to touch him, but I couldn't reach. The man next to me ended up shaking the Pope's hand, so I grabbed his hand to get the Pope's cooties :) Anyway, seeing him changed my life. After that, I was much more "into" my faith and decided to go to Franciscan University of Steubenville to get a real Catholic education. Seeing the Pope is AMAZING, you can just feel the holiness and excitement in the air.
The second time I saw the Pope was on Ash Wednesday, 2000 during his Wednesday Audience in Rome. While studying abroad during my junior year of college in Austria, our whole college went to Rome and Assisi for ten days. We all yelled out "JP 2, Steubenville loves you" and were so happy to hear him say he loved us back. Whatta man!
The third time I saw the Pope was at the Easter Vigil a couple months later. My parents and older sister came out to visit and we (including Phil and Annie) were all able to go have Easter Vigil Mass with the Pope. It was sooooo long, but felt like a minute because it was almost supernatural. Can you tell how much I love this man? Actually it was at this time that I decided my first born son would be named after the Pope (it wasn't even up for discussion, good thing Phil approved). That's why I hyphenated John-Paul's name so that nobody would just call him "John", and that's also why I like to dress him up like this:
So, JP II, we all love you and miss you, and as much as you accomplished here on Earth, I'm sure you are accomplishing even more in Heaven by interceding for us. Thank You!!