Author: Jim B.
My journey with God was ignited by the experience I had at the World Youth Day in Denver, in August of 1993. I was one of about 96,000 people at the Mile High Stadium. We were gathered waiting for the Pope St. John Paul the Great to arrive. Helicopters flew near the stadium – the first two did not land, but the third helicopter finally did land and on the jumbo screen we saw a cardinal getting off. We knew that John Paul II had arrived too. He went into the tunnel with the cardinal and some other dignitaries and, a few minutes later, they’ve appeared inside the stadium in the Pope mobile. As the Pope mobile began to drive around the inside of the stadium, you could hear the 96,000 people gathered sing out “John Paul II, we love you, John Paul II, we love you!” It reverberated throughout the stadium. The place was electrified.
I was in my early thirties and had a powerful experience as John Paul II came by. All of a sudden, I was sobbing. I wasn’t sad and didn’t know what came over me, but all these tears were just pouring out of my eyes. I felt an immense warmth and joy as I was overcome with emotion. It was healing. And it was puzzling. I was trying to figure out what I was experiencing...
Later in the evening, I talked with some of the members of our group who have driven up from Pueblo about the book of Acts where St. Peter would walk and wherever his shadow was cast, or where someone would touch his garment just like people had done with Jesus, people would be healed and brought into the faith and into the Church. And I realized that the shadow of John Paul II had been cast across the stadium. Through that, I received a spiritual gift of grace into my heart and into my soul. I remember it like it was yesterday.
It created a much bigger love and appreciation for the pope in me – for the office of Peter – than I had up until that time. I had a burning desire to attend the next World Youth Day about 18 months later. In fact, I met my future wife a bit later and we went to Philippines for the World Youth Day together. About 150 people of Colorado went too, along with the 3 bishops. There, at a Carmelite Monastery, we’ve picked our wedding day – the feast of the Holy Rosary.
I think that God has used my experience to open the door for me to meet my wife. And that was not the only door. I also became very active in the Knights of Columbus and in the pro-life ministry. I became involved in the Catholic Charismatic renewal movement and started going to adoration and praise and worship meetings. So many beautiful things began to happen!
I didn’t see any of it coming before my Denver encounter. I used to just go to Mass with my grandparents and my uncle and was in a youth group at the Holy Family parish in Pueblo, where I was just starting to do a bit of work with the Knights of Columbus. But the Holy Spirit ignited a great fire in me and a desire for much more. He seized me and used the Holy Father to cast His fire upon me.
Catholic Charismatic Renewal - Diocese of Colorado Springs
Deacon Chuck Matzker
Bishop Sheridan's Liaison to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal