We attended the Catholic Mass Media Awards in 1981 where my mom was to receive an award. It was a small private ceremony at Radio Veritas in Quezon City.
Minutes before Pope John Paul II entered the auditorium, the host said, “We request that everyone remain seated when the Pope walks in. The Pope is very tired. He had a long day. He came from Tondo. He visited a leper community.”
Pope John Paul II arrived and walked down the aisle. All were still. And in awe. All broke in applause and tears. The words that can best describe my feelings at that time don’t exist.
Everyone obeyed the host and stayed seated. As he walked down the aisle close to the row where I was seated, I couldn’t help myself. How could I let this privilege pass? I stood and walked to the Pope to kiss his ring. My brothers, Nikko and Martin, followed their disobedient sister and everyone tried to do the same.
He touched my cheek and my brothers’.
Pope John Paul II was smiling pink and cuddly up close. Just like Santa Claus. It seemed like he moved with a spotlight or a halo of euphoric white light. It’s as if he were always in an intense state of grace.
He had an aura of perfect peace. The kind of calm I felt was no match for earthly happiness. If Pope John Paul’s presence was a sip of heaven, I was excited to take a gulp. From that day, I never feared death. The feeling in His presence was something I never want to live without.
(Kara is now the producer for ARD German TV, contributing producer to CNN, founding partner of Storytellers International Inc. and founding president of the ICANSERVE Foundation. Nikko and Martin are now doctors.)