I did not have any special post during his death anniversary, so let me share with you today my thoughts and memory of the pope I loved so much.
I knew of his existance only when I was 11. I understood that he was the Head of the Church and I respected him for who he was. At the age 15, a Catholic friend borrowed a book especially about Pope John Paul II to me. That was when I got to know him a little better and I started to give more attention to him and his messages etc. At the age of 20, I came to a full understanding of his role as the Head of the Church, and from then onwards I am ever faithful to the Church's teachings... and he also became one of the most important people in my life.
What attracted me the most about him was his love for youths and children. Allen from Kenya wrote this in his article as a tribute to PJP II (see below). For those of you who have been to World Youth Day 1995, you should be familiar with this:
"We love you Pope Lolek!"
"Lolek is a name for a baby, but I am an old man..."
"...but John Paul is too serious. Call me Karol."
The above exchange took place between John Paull II and young people in Manila, on January 14th 1995. They began chanting: "John Paul II! We kiss you!" And he replied: "And I kiss you too, all of you! No jealousy!"
(Pope John Paul II - Friend of the Youth by Allen Ottaro)
Oh well, I am jealous. I wasn't there to see him!
I believe many young people like me fell in love with John Paul II. Perhaps, it was because of his spontaneity with the youths. Or perhaps, we youths knew that he always kept us dear to his heart. For me, I was touched by this Pope because I saw Christ in him. I saw a glimps of Jesus in him. Therefore, I had been looking forward to attending World Youth Day... I wanted to meet him so badly! However, I did not make it to meeting him before he was called home by the Lord. Even though so, I felt a very special bond connecting me to him. And this same bond has also connected me to many youths around the world (through Vatican Friends, blogging etc.).
What else can I say about him? Everything I know and feel about him have been mentioned in many posts and blogs during his 1st death anniversary. There is no need for me to repeat. One thing for sure, is that it will take me forever to forget him. He has made so much impact on my life (many which I cannot remember anymore), and he was the one who brought me even closer to God.
Father God, I pray today to thank You for sending Karol here for us youths. Thank You, Father, for Your unconditional love for us. Dear John Paul II, look down from Heaven and may you continue to keep us in your heart. Amen!
Happy Birthday, Pope Lolek! We love you!