I can still remember the day quite clearly. I remember that it had started to rain. I had a poncho on, but I stuck my head inside the poncho and made a little tent for myself. I had brought along a little paperback book and I was reading it as we were passing the time. I still remember this day being one of the more impressive days of my life.
Where was I? I was in a canyon waiting for John Paul II to come in for the evening prayer at World Youth Day in Denver.
I had never seen such a vibrant expression of my Catholic faith before. Here there were like a million people all drawn there to see this Pope. I thought it was way toooo cool.
Years later I would think of my experience again when I started to ponder my priestly vocation. I can say that John Paul was important there too since I read Pastores Dabo Vobis which very clearly helped me to understand what a vocation to priesthood meant and what I needed to do in order to become a priest.
John Paul died while I was in the seminary, but he was crucial in my priestly formation. It's too bad I had never had the chance to say "John Paul our Pope" during the Eucharistic prayer. But, now I will get to say something even better: St. John Paul II... ora pro nobis.