My birthday was a couple of weeks ago. I turned the ripe old age of 23 or 69, depending on who you ask (friends say that some of my interests – including my love of naps – make me an old man.)

I had a great birthday – my parents came to visit as part of their trip out to the east coast.One day while they were visiting we went and saw the Franciscan Monastery, which is very close to where I live.

We also went and visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine,which is right next to Catholic University of America. The exhibit they have is amazing. It gave a very detailed history of his life and struggles. I encourage all of you to go visit it any time you are in Washington DC.

When I was walking around the center,  the displays kept talking about his great love and faith in God. He suffered the death of his father,mother and siblings when he was very young and turned to God. This made me feel inspired in my own life because John Paul among all of that suffering turned himself to God and with God’s grace became the great man that we knew.  It inspires me to put my trust in God and follow his plan. My grandparents had great admiration for this man when they were alive and that rubbed off on me.

oct22_Karol_Wojtyla-Krakow_wikicommons

By Jacek FEDOROWICZ, via Wikimedia Commons

He served faithfully throughout his life against oppression by first the Nazis and then the Soviets. John Paul’s greatest legacy was that of inspiration through these times of trouble that were part the world. He inspired people of many faiths.

I was in great awe when I saw his robes and mitre that they had at the museum. They made me feel hopeful for Catholics because John Paul had change the world in his life and reach out to more people. I see that hope in Pope Francis because he reaching out being a bridge of reconciliation to people all over the world. Even right now with the synod of the family. He is trying to make Catholicism able to reach those who have left the faith just as John Paul did during his lifetime.

That this great man was alive when I was alive makes me inspired to change the world for the better. It remind me that we are all called to saints in our own lives. It gives me hope for the future of the church and the world.

I hope to remember St. John Paul II wherever I go with FMS and help inspire hope in all that I will serve. This great man’s day is today. Please let us celebrate this day because we all know he is the Father’s arms in heaven.

Header image of the Shrine and Cultural Center in DC by WaszyngtonWaszyngton via Wikimedia Commons