It was September 1987; John Paul II was in the United States and was scheduled to speak at the Catholic Health Association in Phoenix, Arizona during his pastoral visit to the United States September 10-19, 1987.
My parents were invited to attend the conference because my Dad served on the advisory board for a local Catholic hospital. They joined several other board members at the conference where Pope John Paul II, who was making an historic pastoral visit to the United States, was going to appear and speak to the conference attendees.
There was a huge crowd and as the Pope entered the hall, my Mom said you could hear the cheer go up and people began laughing and crying at the same time. As he made his way down the aisle alongside other speakers and his hosts, people were lined up trying to reach out to touch him, receive his blessing or just see his marvelous smile. There were nuns, priests, men, women and even babies
At one point my parents got separated, Dad with camera in hand, trying to capture a shot of the pope. My Mom was two people behind the line placing her hand over the head of a short nun in front of her with her rosary wrapped around her hand. Suddenly she felt a shake as the Pope grabbed her hand with the rosary, held it for a moment then let go as he moved on. A photographer even caught the moment. She ‘s the woman on the right in red with short dark hair and not wearing glasses. Dad is actually in the picture too far to the left the one with silver hair and glasses holding a camera. Unbelievably my Dad caught a picture of the Pope just after the Pope grabbed mom’s hand. Her arm is the one in red on the left.
Elated my Dad found my Mom and they hugged and cried. Later a photographer from the conference snapped this shot of my Mom and Dad from behind at the conference as they listened to the Pope speak. The rosary is still wrapped around my mom’s left hand as she holds Dad’s arm around her.
What a beautiful memory they both had of that day and us kids too as we have the photos to help us share it with them!
The picture of Mom from the front was taken by a photographer at the conference.
The picture of the Pope’s face was taken by my Dad.
The picture of my parents from behind was taken by a photographer at the conference.