A decade ago, I remember exactly where I was. My household at Franciscan University had been planning our once-a-semester retreat for weeks on the weekend of April 1-3. On Saturday afternoon we were sitting on couches reflecting on something or distractedly attempting to listen to a talk when one girl received a phone call we had all been dreading.
"He's gone," she barely whispered.
The crying commenced. The praying continued. And the sudden feeling of being orphaned, bewildered and lost began.
At 3:37 pm in Ohio (9:37 pm at the Vatican), the only Pope we had known in our lifetime died. Ten years later, we have officially recognized John Paul II as a saint, as the cries of Santo Subito at his death and funeral predicted.
We knew it was going to happen. In fact, the day before, the most horrifying way to hear the news came on Fox News when a producer of some sort screamed that the Pope had died when her microphone was inadvertently audible on air. It was a mistake. He was not dead, but for several minutes dozens of students huddled around the small television screen mourning his life prematurely. When we learned that it was all a mistake, that he was still living, we stood on the boundary of waiting to mourn again and hoping that somehow a miracle would occur.
But the next afternoon, hearing, "He's gone," jolted us to the reality that John Paul's race really was over. He was no longer our Pope. Now he was our intercessor.
It seems impossible that it has really been ten years since St. John Paul II went "to the house of the Father." Yet here we are reflecting on the passage of time and the ever-strong intercession and inspiration of our Polish pontiff.
As I've mentioned before, my blog writing is on hiatus as I devote more time to a writing project, but I couldn't let this day go by without a brief reflection.
My reflection on John Paul, "Remembering the Pope of the Family" can be read at Time for the Family.
And if you'd like to read a beautiful tribute to the particular influence of St. John Paul II on one young woman's life, read what Jenny Uebbing has to say in her piece, "He moved me."
St. John Paul II, pray for us.