Commemorating Pope John Paul II’s historic visit to the Alamo city, an exhibit to mark the 20th anniversary of the event was unveiled in the San Fernando Cathedral Museum on Aug. 23. It consists of a photo retrospective and a collection of artifacts, including rosaries given to the various committee chairpersons by the pontiff, special pins created by the Secret Service for event planners, and memorabilia that was sold to attendees, such as caps and cups. Among the most important items is a chalice that was used to distribute Communion hosts during the papal Mass.
Father Garcia said the visit helped unite the city, as many groups and organizations came together and involved people from all denominations. “It was a world class event,” he stressed.
Msgr. Stuebben explained that most museums consist of displays to see what other people have done, but that the San Fernando exhibit shows what the city did here. “The visit of the people was an occasion for the entire city to work together,” he said. “We never got a single ‘no’ when we asked for something. The city rose up to do something special.”
The monsignor cited some interesting statistics involving the event two decades ago. The papal Mass in Westover Hills attracted 350,000 worshippers, which is still the single largest gathering of people in the state of Texas for one event.
“No matter where you were during those two days, this exhibit is a wonderful occasion to be renewed in mind and heart and this visit marked San Antonio at its finest,” he concluded.
Archbishop Gomez in his remarks quoted Pope John Paul II, who noted, “The church in San Antonio has a very special calling that flows from our history as a ‘crossroads’ and ‘a meeting of cultures, indigenous and immigrant, from every part of the world.’”
The archbishop added, “The pope’s visit also gave San Antonio the opportunity to display the wonderful interfaith spirit that has enriched our community in so many ways.”
The prelate thanked Father Garcia for beginning the official observances of the historic anniversary with the Pope John Paul II display. “The sound of the pope’s voice and the spirit of the seminarians and religious who were here 20 years ago still resonate in this place so rich in faith and history,” he emphasized.