“And he looked at me and he said ‘you are very young,’” he recalled.
Bishop Gaydos, as secretary to Cardinal John Carberry of St. Louis, had been in Rome for John Paul II’s election in 1978 and stood directly below the balcony when the Polish pontiff was first announced to the world.
“The night he was elected was just electrifying,” the bishop said. “His whole demeanor, his whole witness, he poured himself out completely in service of the Gospel. The heart of the New Evangelization is to engage all of us who are baptized in that same kind of gospel generosity.”
Bishop Gaydos still has the pectoral cross Bl. John Paul II gave to all the bishops who made ad limina visits in 1997.
“It is a very special thing for me right now.”
On the morning of March 12, the Missouri bishop presided at Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Chapel of St. Sebastian, where the beatified Pope is interred under the altar.
He said the daily reading “perfectly reflected the power of God’s grace in the New Evangelization that Bl. John Paul II was launching for us.”
In the reading, Jesus speaks to a Nazareth synagogue about the reception of the prophets in their own lands.
Bishop Gaydos said this is a challenge to realize that God’s salvation “isn’t something that’s way off in the distance. It’s something right here, right now.”
Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.