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Meeting with John Paul ll in D.C.

One of the happiest moments in my life came with the arrival of Pope John Paul ll in Washington D.C. in 1979.The Holy Father said mass at St.Matthew's Cathedral for the priests and invited guests.After the mass, he had lunch with the Cardinals at the rectory.Nine of us priests who worked at the rectory were told that we would be able to meet the Holy Father as he came down the stairs after the lunch.We were waiting at the foot of the stairs .The Holy Father was going from there straight to the white House. Archbishop Marcinkus who was coming with him stretched out his hand in front of us saying that the Holy Father had no time as he was getting late for the meeting with the President.But , then, Cardinal Baum, took the Holy father, behind the outstretched hands of the Archbishop and introduced all of us to him. When he came to me, he asked whether I was from India and I kissed his hand and said :"Yes."That was the first time in my life , I have ever come closer to a Pope.
The night before, the street in front of St.Matthew's was occupied by people.We could see in the wee hours of the morning, people bringing their chairs and sitting in the middle of the street.While the Holy Father was having lunch,people who were waiting for him , were shouting, "John Paul ll, we love you ". After the lunch, he asked the Pastor to bring a mike to the balcony and responded to the acclamation of the people, saying" John paul ll, he loves you." There was a thunderous applause from the people, hearing those words from the Holy Father.I had the privilege of distributing communion at the mass at the Cathedral and later at the Mall.
This was first and last time I had ever got chance to meet the Pope and speak to him.
Later, during my visit to Rome in 1980, I was present at the General audience.
By that time, Cardinal Baum moved to Rome and I met him at his apartment.Through him, I could have got a private audience with the Holy Father.Since I had already met him in Washington D.C., I did not show much interest for such an event.


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