Below is the text of an email upon which I recently happened, regarding John Paul II's 1979 visit to Ireland and his address to the youth in Galway. Though more than a year old, the email still captures my sentiments:
I first saw this post a few days ago, but I returned to it again today, to listen to the clip and read a couple of the links. As I heard the crowd cheering for the Holy Father - not politely, but wildly - I started to cry. I miss that man, a lot. When attending my first World Youth Day in Rome, I remember telling people I was going to visit the pope, since he had invited me (and all the young people of the world) to come hang out at his place. It was a joke, of course, but there was a truth to it I didn't fully realize at the time. John Paul was a man whose love for humanity - and in particular for the youth - was palpable, even when he was but a speck on a distant stage. Even as we watched his health fail over the years, until he could barely move or speak when last I saw him in 2004. Even then, he was every inch a pope, and a genuine friend to millions of people he had never met. As I listened to the thunder of the crowd in Ireland, I remembered what it was like to live on the same planet with such a man. It truly was an ennobling thing. And I cried. Tears of joy and of loss. Big fat tears that splashed on the desk. And on the crowd cheered, knowing that they were loved, by God and by this Polish pope who had come to their little island.
Blessed be God! John Paul the Great, pray for us!
Read the blog post about John Paul's visit to Ireland here, or simply go here to hear his homily to the youth in Galway on 30 September. The whole thing is worth listening to, but if you want to skip straight to the climax mentioned above, simply push forward to about 41:00.