The highlight of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Chicago in October 1979 was a three-hour Mass in Grant Park, attended by an estimated 200,000 people. (Photo courtesy AP / Wide World)
I must say sorry for this being so late, but I was captivated most of the weekend and days following by so much going in that I hadn’t had a chance to put this to the pen, or in this case, to the fingertips.
I was blessed in so many ways, on that warm October 5th day in 1979. I was 12 years old and all the Catholic Schools were given the day off to attend the mass in Grant Park. My mother took me and my brother on the train to make sure we had the chance to see the Pope. We waited on the parade route with so many people. I had never seen so many people before. As we waited for the motorcade I began to walk up the street where the crowd was thin. As I made my way through the people to get closer to the curb, now, Blessed Pope John Paul II was heading our way. I stood in awe as his car slowed to a snails pace and he blessed all standing on the side of the street. I’m sure everyone in that huge crowd of people could say the same thing, but I know in my heart, as I stood there, he looked directly at me and blessed me and the people around me. I was emptied of every ill feeling in the world in that split second and felt a joy and love I had never felt in my life. From that day on, I loved him so dearly. To see his photo or hear him speak on television always brought a smile to my face. And in every way today, continues to have the same effect on me. He was and will always be “Papa” to me. Great will be his title.
When I think of that day now, I know in my heart, I have him to thank for putting in the good word.