Where Were You?

by Michelle Arnold

in The Pope

The passing of our beloved John Paul II was not unexpected, yet most of us will remember, I think, where we were when we heard that he had died. I would, perhaps, have chosen to be in my studio, or at Adoration, or any other place where I might have given his passing the attention it deserved and had time for prayerful reflection. As it was, our house was a flurry of activity as we prepared for my daughter’s birthday party later that day. Decorations needed hanging. Last minute tidying had to be done. One more trip to the store for this and that forgotten item. I caught the announcement on FOX News as I was getting in the shower. Life went on at a dizzying pace.

The party (a sleepover) was a big success. The last guest has gone. We have almost finished cleaning up. Before we attend Mass tonight we will gather in prayer as a family and reflect on the passing of our Papa. I will go to Adoration tonight at midnight and offer prayers for the repose of his soul, for his successor and for the cardinals who will gather to elect him.

Tomorrow the trees will continue to throw out their buds, our dogs will go on pestering the squirrels and I will get back to painting. Over the coming months the magnitude of this loss will soak into our awareness like a slow spring rain.

John Paul II, we miss you. Pray for us.

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{ 27 comments }

John April 3, 2005 at 5:51 pm

I was watching the news at home with my family, and it was good to all be together to hear the news. My girlfriend is studying in Rome until June, so it is also interesting to hear her perspectives on all the events surround the Holy Father’s passing.
Meditating on his life and works, I am amazed at how much he has affected me and the lives of other 20-somethings. So many blessings have been bestowed upon each one of us because of his prayers and way of living, and we can only wait with bated breath because after all, his life was just the beginning of the “new springtime of the church.” What he accomplishes after death will no doubt echo through eternity just as what he accomplished in life will too.
I will be traveling to Rome at the beginning of May, and despite all the sadness I feel right now, I know that the church will strive onwards as it always has, and I will be there to see and maybe meet our new “papa.”
Rest in peace, John Paul the Great!

Terence Launey April 3, 2005 at 7:39 pm

I was in my backyard preparing the garden for planting when they announced it on the radio. Even though we all suspected it was coming, a wave of emotion just engulfed me that I can’t quite shake.
The priest at mass toady said we had all been witness to the life of a saint unfold for these past many years in Pope John Paul II. I agree.

Jayson Franklin April 3, 2005 at 8:25 pm

My wife, daughter, and my little brother and I were on our way to the animal shelter to get a dog for our family. I was flipping through the dials and trying to find any news. The spring rain and cold wind made good reception hard to find, but when I did, I heard the news: John Paul II had passed into eternity.

Mary April 3, 2005 at 8:37 pm

I think I was online, but I forget exactly where.

Jules April 3, 2005 at 8:46 pm

I was at work — the reference desk at my university’s library. It’s the beginning of the quarter and consequently it’s very quiet except for the odd graduate or high school student taking advantage of the undergrad lull. I was translating Catullus and checking Google news between lines. I think I read the reports of his death somewhere between lines five and six of poem five (vivamus, mea Lesbia). It didn’t really hit me until I got off of work, thankfully. Much easier to read tributes and cry in private.

Gilbert April 3, 2005 at 8:59 pm

I make it a point to pray a rosary every day. I had been watching Fox News almost non-stop since Friday. It was 1:50 pm, Saturday, here in Texas, central time. I turned off the TV and began to pray my rosary, specifically for the Pope and the Church and the whole situation. I was very tired so it took me quite a while to pray it, and I didn’t finish until 2:35. I turned the TV back on and learned that the Pope had passed away at 9:37 pm, Rome time. Of course, that was 1:37 my time, 13 minutes or so before I began my rosary. I missed the moment when the news broke, but I was glad that I was blessed to be in a state of prayer the moment before I heard, if not the moment when he actually passed away.

Zhou De-Ming April 3, 2005 at 9:18 pm

In the car driving back from Home Depot listening to news on the radio. The wall repairs I did later in the day will always remind me of Pope John Paul II.

Edward Curtis April 3, 2005 at 9:20 pm

I had just arrived at my favorite eating spot in downtown Morgantown, WV, Gibbie’s Pub, for a late lunch. They have a large screen TV on the back wall which usually shows sporting events — but in this instance, as my waitress was getting my drink, CBS News broke into programming with the announcement of John Paul’s passing. I made the sign of the cross right then and there and said a little prayer for the repose of his soul.

Jared Olar April 3, 2005 at 9:20 pm

I was at home with my kids. My wife had just left with our newborn daughter to do some grocery shopping. Since Thursday, I’d been periodically checking the internet for news of the Pope’s expected final departure. I think it was either about 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. when I went online and found out he had died — and had died around the same time that my wife left to go to the store. Then I turned the t.v. on to watch some of the tribute shows the networks were airing. (We don’t have cable.) My wife didn’t turn the radio on in the van, so she didn’t find out until I told her when she got back.

LawfulGood April 3, 2005 at 11:24 pm

At home listening to the radio. April 2nd is my birthday. A friend just emailed me and said that my birthday is going to be a feast day in the not too distant future. The Feast of St. John Paul The Great. =)

Marc April 4, 2005 at 3:52 am

I was in line for Confession when an ederly man whispered to the man beside me that Pope had died.

Frank April 4, 2005 at 5:49 am

I heard at 9.30am Sunday Mass (4 hrs after he died). I hadn’t bothered to check the news beforehand, but knew it was likely. The priest offered the Mass for the pope, saying an extra opening prayer, prayed for him during the Eucharistic prayer, and said an extra prayer after communion.
I was so glad that I hadn’t slept in, since our parish priest also gave one of his best sermons too, and shared that he’d had the privelege of concelebrating mass with the pope in his private chapel.

Other Eric April 4, 2005 at 6:18 am

Hi Tim!
I was asleep in my cousin’s house on vacation when I was woken up for the news. John Paul II is the only pope for whom I have any memory and his passing leaves me ambivalent and apprehensive about the next pope.

Ruthann April 4, 2005 at 6:36 am

Knowing that His Holiness’ death was imminent, I had FoxNews on constantly from Friday afternoon (I even slept with it on all night, although the word “slept” is a bit strong). Saturday afternoon when they made the announcement I was standing in front of the television, because I knew that this was the Big Announcement.
I still haven’t had a good night’s sleep since! I feel like a ship without a rudder.
‘thann

Ben April 4, 2005 at 8:03 am

I was in our car driving my family home from my son’s teeball game when we heard the news on the radio.

Steve April 4, 2005 at 8:58 am

I had just buzzed my hair and was just about to jump in the shower, when my wife called – which was strange all by itself at the time. I didn’t know that she wasn’t home. She had gone to our good friend’s house next door to do laundry (since our washing machine is on the fritz.) She flipped on Fox News and caught the first announcement from AP. Since we don’t have cable, I quickly ran over and watched with her then came home and told the kids. My wife called our pastor, who hadn’t yet heard, and he immediately rang the church bells. My eldest daughter, who was at a first Saturday-day at the local Franciscan friary, then called and told us that the friars were holding a special mass in 15 minutes. We packed the kids and broke a few laws getting to the friary on time.

Brendan April 4, 2005 at 9:16 am

I live in Dublin, but I’m currently on holiday in Scotland. I was in my hotel room in Edinburgh watching BBC; he died about 2027 GMT. After watching some coverage for a while, I went out to St Mary’s Cathedral, close by.
It had obviously been kept open anyway, and there were about 40/50 people there already. It was dark, with only the light from candles on the main altar and some side shrines.
Just inside the altar rails, they had put up a picture of the late Holy Father giving the red hat to the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Keith O’Brien. Ironically, this week coincides with Cardinal O’Brien’s 40th anniversary of ordination.
I went there again early Sunday morning, and there was a BBC Radio Scotland van outside the front of the Cathedral. Actually, I went to the 1930 Mass that evening, and the Cathedral was packed, and the average age of the congregation I would guess was 26 to 27.
The priest spoke mainly on the day’s Gospel: Christ saying to all of us Thomases, “Give me your hand”, but did refer frequently to the late Pope.
I also remember him saying this: he admitted that “in these days we have to be media-friendly, but the media have been dreadful. The last phone call we got last night was at one in the morning, and the first phone call we got this morning was at 0630.”

dcs April 4, 2005 at 9:41 am

I was watching a movie (‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’) with my son. Then I laid him down for a nap and checked the news on the computer. I must have been about 3:15 (EST) when I finally found out.

Brian April 4, 2005 at 10:56 am

I was at home watching Fox News. Actually I was reading the local news paper (a section dedicated to John Paul II) while my wife changed channels briefly. When she came back to Fox they were just then announcing his passing. I heard my wife take in her breath and I looked up to see on the screen “John Paul II has died”. I knew the moment was coming like so many others, but when I saw that a wave of sadness swept through me. At the same time thanfully I was happy. I had a smile on my face because I knew that Heaven was celebrating the return of a faithful servant.
I then told my wife that we should go to the cathedral for Saturday evening Mass. We did that and the priest there had an excellent homily and had included wonderful prayers for John Paul. There were quite a few people there and we were all very silent and respectful. I’ll never forget that day.

Brian April 4, 2005 at 10:58 am

Also, I kept looking at our little baby as I held him at Mass Saturday, and thought to myself, “I will have to tell you stories of the Great Pope John Paul II. I hope the Holy Spirit has more such saints in store for your lifetime.”

Mike April 4, 2005 at 1:22 pm

I was literally headed into the Confessional, when a woman came into the church and said the Pope had passed. That was about 3:00pm (EST). My friend Tom and I had plans to take our kids to “Jungle Java” to watch them play while we could enjoy a cup of coffee. Didn’t seem right for some reason, so we both went home to watch the coverage, and reflect upon the greatness that was John Paul II.

JohnH April 4, 2005 at 1:28 pm

I checked my email in the middle of watching “Trading Spaces” – we had been out or reading all day and we were listening to CDs…

Don(Kiwi) April 4, 2005 at 4:18 pm

At Sunday morning 8. a.m Mass, when it was announced the JPII had died about an hour earlier.

JonathanR. April 5, 2005 at 2:15 am

I was asleep when he died. :( I learned only hours later when I woke up and it was on TV.

Bruce Chalupsky April 6, 2005 at 8:51 am

I was sitting in the car, waiting for my wife to come back when I just turned on the radio. Instantly it was the news that he had just died. It was more than coincidence that the parking lot was in front of the church in which we were married twelve years previous. God is a poet, he doesn’t repeat history – he makes it rhyme.

Drake May 20, 2005 at 4:39 pm

bkn6opjioki8oillllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllkillllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll illllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllljlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

Rebecca May 20, 2005 at 10:52 pm

I had agreed to work that day at a Costco doing in store demos for Holy Cow cleaning product. Because of the name, a man watching my demo asked what religious affiliation we had. I said none, but the closest in name would be Hindu ;)
He said it wasn’t really appropriate to joke about religion because of the Pope dieing and all. I corrected him…when I had left the house He had not passed yet and I truly thought he was still alive. He said no, he had died, and my boss whom I was working with verified it. I thought I was fine but I must have looked sad and surprised because their faces changed and the customer said, “Are you Catholic?” I replied yes and he said he was sorry for my loss. My boss said, why don’t you take a break” I did, had a soda, and then went back to work. His funeral gave me the opportunity to share my faith with a non-Catholic friend who respected JP2 very much. She made the comment, when we are in heaven, there will be no Protestants or Catholics, and we will all just be Christ’s children in heaven. I understood what she was saying, and I decided not to go into my belief in the communion of saints…

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