Since the death of my, our, beloved John Paul II, I have prayed for his beatification. Every spring I teach my course on catechetical saints and I have been itching to include him in the course material. Naturally, for the ten years that I have been teaching the course, he has played a pivotal role because his writings have been featured throughout the course. He has left catechists so much, and I will be focusing the next few articles on him.
I do not think that I need to go into any detail of the actual life of John Paul. I do, however, want to make this article personal, because I think that all of us engaged in the work of catechesis have a personal relationship with him. I was student teaching, doing my practice teaching before I received my degree in theology and elementary education, when John Paul was elected in 1978. I shared in the joy of his election like all the sisters in my congregation, but this was even more special for me. We had a Polish pope! My grandparents both came from Poland, and my grandfather was one of the founders of the Polish parish where my father and his brothers and sisters, as well as my brother and sisters received our first sacraments. I have always been proud of my heritage. Now our Holy Father was Polish, and the bond between us became even stronger than the bond I would have with any Pope. And when I called home to see how my father received the news, he told me, in between his sobs of joy, that he had been working on the church steps when a neighbor gave him the news. How appropriate!
Now my personal story isn’t all that important for catechists, but I think it does bear repeating here because most of us felt that we had a personal connection with our late, great Pope. And that was part of his gift to the Church upon ascending to the Chair of St Peter.