15 March 1982
On the morning of March 15th, 1982, the staff of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office was invited to attend the seven o’clock morning Mass of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II.
The Mass took place in the private chapel of the Pope’s apartments. Fr. Fio Mascarenhas, director of the International Office and Fr. Tom Forrest, chairman of the International Council were asked to concelebrated with the Holy Father. The full-time staff made up of Marta Vargas from Puerto Rico, Orlando D’Costa from Bombay and Elisabeth Bouyssou from Paris also attended. After the Mass the Holy Father spoke to each one of the group in a personal and unhurried way, giving them gifts of a rosary and a bound copy of several of his talks regarding the attempt against his life. Fr. Fio and Fr. Tom were them invited to remain for breakfast with His Holiness.
The simple breakfast lasted a full hour, and the the Pope began the conversation with the question, “How is your movement developing around the world? Do you have any important reflections to share about it with me?” The two priests gave the Holy Father a short summary of how the Renewal was developing continent by continent. They then explained to the Pope their plans for a world charismatic retreat to take place in Rome in October, 1984, with between five and ten thousand priests attending. When asked if he would help preach this retreat the Holy Father responded with his rich and deep voice, “Well…it is possible”.
There was a general discussion on the condition of the Church throughout the world, and the Pope congratulated the two priests for the opportunity they had been given of serving God in so many different places. When speaking about the need for re-evangelizing throughout Europe, the two charismatic leaders expressed the belief that strong faith would be coming back to Europe from the same third-world countries that Europe itself had once evangelized. In this context, the Pope expressed his own conviction that renewed faith for Europe would be coming out from Russia, explaining that Christianity was a deep part of the Russian culture, and that though the faith there is Orthodox rather than Roman Catholic, “it is still a very strong faith”. In explaining these words, he emphasized that at Fatima, Russia was the only country explicitly named by Mary, with the promise that if we prayed, that country would be converted. These words made the two priests remember that the Pope himself had been shot at 5:30 p.m. on May 13th, the same hour and dates as the Fatima apparitions.
Africa, Poland and the special problems of Latin America also came into the conversation. When Fr. Fio and Fr. Tom explained several of the efforts and activities being undertaken by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Pope responded at several points in the conversation by saying, “This is why your movement is so important, because it is emphasizing spirituality”. After the breakfast had ended His Holiness gave both priests a very warm hug. While walking from the small dining room with His Holiness, Fr. Tom mentioned to the Pope that he often told charismatic groups in different areas of the world that one of the Holy Father’s special charisms was to communicate joy; that any meeting with him always left someone with a feeling of delight. At these words the Pope smiled. He had done it again.
Taken from the ICCRS Newsletter, March-April 1982