I remember two nights in 1978.I used to fall asleep with a shortwave radio turned on and one the frequency I listened to was one shared with the Vatican Radio. One night, I woke suddenly as the Vatican began broadcasting and heard of the death of Pope Paul VI. I was stunned. But thrity three days later I woke again to the early morning broadcast of Vatican Radio saying that the pope had died. I was rather confused, and for a moment thought it was actually the same night,, thirty three days earlier. I had stopped being a practicing Catholic at this time for many years, but when John Paul II was elected to the papacy, I felt a great deal of pride, as my grandafathers family had lived within a few miles of the village that the pope grew up in, and Cardinal Wojtyla had been spoken of by my family long before most of the world had heard his name.
I still remained a lapsed Cathlic for many years. During this period, I had an accident which caused serious neurological damage and I spent years in anger about the accident and those who had caused it. Until I saw the grace and dignity in which John Paul II accepted the terrible disability he had. It was not only his acceptance, but his openly sharing this disability with the world. I felt shamed by my own anger, and eventually returned to the church as a practicing Catholic. Anyway, without this popes Life, I feel I would have not returned to the faith I was born to.
We have been fortunate to have had such a man to lead our church, but the world has also been just as fortunate that the Catholic Church broght forth a man like John Paul II.
In the history of the world, tere have been few men who have been able to inspire and change the lives of so many people in such a sort span of years.
This is not written to offer condolences for the Pope, but to offer condolences for the world in losing such a great figure.
In years to come it may be that people will not be able to beleive that such a man ever existed in flesh and blood.