Readers' John Paul Tributes

More reflections on the new blessed.

“In 1996, when I was 29, I had the great privilege of having a private audience with Pope John Paul II with a group of about a dozen others. It is unfortunate, however, that I was not where I should have been in my faith. It was a blessing, though, that Pope John Paul II was to be instrumental in transforming my hard heart (which is good, since I became a priest seven years later). Although I believed in the authority of our Holy Father, it was weak and undeveloped. (I had a bit of a rebellious streak in me!) In fact, even as we were wending our way to our audience, I told a friend I was with that there was no way I would ever kiss the Pope’s ring. ‘He’s just a man like me,’ I reasoned. So there I stood in my mini rebellion, at the threshold of the Great Doors, awaiting this ‘just a man’ to emerge. The doors opened, and Pope John Paul II emerged. (I get tears in my eyes every time I think about it, even now). I was stunned, cut to the heart, defeated in my rebellion, and by nothing more than his presence. There was something ... and I could not quite put my finger on it. So this is what it is like to be before a holy man of God, the Supreme Pontiff? Needless to say, when Pope John Paul II stood before me to greet me, I went right to my knee and kissed his ring, and not out of formality or protocol, but out of sheer love and awe. When I stood back up and saw Pope John Paul II peering into my eyes, I knew that he knew my struggle and that he loved me. I have never been the same since. As a priest, I am so grateful to Pope John Paul for teaching me the true nature of authority and obedience, both rooted in love.” — Father James Bromwich, Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky.

“On May 22, 2004, we were coming to the hospital to visit with [our daughter] Colleen. She called us and she told us she had been running a fever.  The doctor was concerned that she had developed a uterine infection, and it was stressing the baby. We went to the waiting room and were there a very short time when [her husband] Brad walked in and said the baby was delivered. We were shocked he came to the waiting room so quickly.  He told us that they had to perform an emergency hysterectomy. Her uterus had split all the way open. The placenta had also grown through the previous C-section scar and had attached onto her bladder. Placenta accretas are very serious and are often fatal. What saved both Colleen and the baby was the uterine infection caused by the early opening of the uterus. Miracles galore. When John Paul Joseph was born, at 27 weeks, at 2 lbs. 7 oz., he cried and breathed on his own. More miracles. There had been a NICU-Code Blue team at the ready surrounding him and no intervention was required. Pope John Paul II is a very special servant of God to this family, and Colleen’s story had been told many times. John Paul is aware of who he is named after, and no one is allowed to call him John; it is always John Paul. He has a pronounced dimple in his right check and when people ask where he got the dimple from, Colleen will say, ‘It is where John Paul kissed him when he was born.’ After a 78-day hospital stay, John Paul was able to go home with his family and has never had any health problems.” —Maureen Pott

“I have a tale of two experiences. I saw JP2 for Easter Mass about two years before he passed. He passed close to my group of college friends on his way out of Mass. He was in a motorized car. After he passed, my family got some remembrance cards with a younger picture and a prayer. There was one in my fiancée’s car, which I was driving to work on my 23rd birthday. It was in November in Wisconsin, and a freak blizzard blew up. I was going 65 on the freeway when my car hit an icy patch and went into a skid, which became a roll. My car rolled across the median and landed driver’s side down in the middle of oncoming traffic, demolishing several yards of guardrail on the way over. I walked away from the accident, shaken but whole. When my dad went to see if anything had been left behind, he found one of the cards in perfect condition. He kept it. To this day, my father believes that John Paul is the reason I’m still alive.” — Mouse