One of the official visits made by the Holy Father was at the Immaculate Conception School in Los Angeles. The First Lady accompanied the Holy Father’s visit to the school. I was stationed in another room waiting for the visit to conclude and to assure that the traveling Bishops were in their proper vehicle. I recall being asked to locate one of the Cardinals because the entourage was about to leave for Mass at Dodger Stadium.
I entered a secured tent that covered the entrance of the school and a Secret Service agent stopped me immediately. I was standing perfectly still when Pope John Paul II and Nancy Reagan walked from the school into the covered tent. I was standing directly next to the Pope and First Lady as they embraced and the Pope bestowed a special blessing to the First Lady. Since I was standing inches away from the First Lady, I am sure I received a partial blessing.
Reflecting all these years later, I now spend my priestly ministry searching for men, like Saint John Paul the Great, to answer the call from God to serve as a Priest of Jesus Christ. His words continue the echo in my mind: “Be Not Afraid.”
-Fr. Stephen Davoren