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Celebrating St. John Paul II


Editor’s Note: Missioner-in-training Aubrey Kimble shares her experience celebrating the October 22 Feast of John Paul II at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, DC

I hate to say that I didn’t know very much about JPII before Formation. I heard that he was a great pope, but I never really thought to go much deeper than that.

Thankfully, the National Shrine’s museum and celebration of his feast day changed that.

For instance, JPII is a perfect example of faithful devotion to God. His early years were plagued with tragedy – he lost his mother at a young age and his older brother just a few years later. He also lost his father much later and lived through the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust.

How incredible is it that JPII suffered through so much tragedy and never lost his faith? Instead of letting those events separate him from God, he leaned that much more on his faith and discovered his vocation to the priesthood.

During the celebration, there was a dramatic reading of his inaugural papal address in St. Peter’s Square.

Listening to the re-reading of that speech was incredibly powerful! St. JPII urged the people not to be afraid – to accept Christ’s mission and leave behind all doubt and uncertainty. As he said, we are indeed the mystical body of Christ, and we must humble ourselves to constantly go back to God and listen to His words of eternal life after we inevitably turn away.

The Gospel reading for JPII’s feast day was John 21:15-17. It was very fitting both for this feast day as well as my own discernment.

This passage is so simple, yet so profound. Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Such a simple question, but one we should reflect on. Jesus tells Peter that if he loves him, to feed his sheep.

Aubrey, do you love me?

Of course, when I insert my own name into this passage, I am also very quick to say, Of course Lord! You know that I love you! Just like Peter.

But do my actions show this? Even better…does my heart show it?

This is such a pertinent time to reflect on this Gospel passage since I’m currently discerning which mission site is the best fit for me. This is a very scary and difficult time, especially since what I once thought would be a simple process is now being turned upside down. I find myself worrying and feeling anxious instead of handing it over to God. But each time I catch myself doing this, I can’t help but hear…

Aubrey, do you love me?

I know I must trust in Him and His perfect plan. I’m working on giving up my own control, slowly but surely.

Yes Lord, I love you.

I challenge each of you to insert your own name into this simple question, and really reflect on your response. What are you doing to feed His sheep?

Aubrey has been in Bolivia since January 2016 serving at Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa, a rural college. She works at the children's library and in a daycare for students' babies. She also accompanies students in their daily and after-school activities, such as Pastoral group, English Club, and Mujeres Valientes, a women's empowerment group.

Aubrey’s heart lies in service, the Spanish language, and music – she has been playing the cello for 11 years. While studying economics and Spanish at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Aubrey became a Catholic and discovered her love for service through Newman Center alternative spring break trips to Philadelphia and Staten Island. Her desire to be the hands and feet of Christ among the poor motivated her serve on overseas mission.