Jan.28,1999 (EWTNews) - Wednesday night as the Holy Father walked with Vice President Gore along the tarmac at Lambert International Airport to board "Shepherd I" and return to Rome, people wept, waved handkerchiefs and cheered "John Paul II, we love you!". With a wave of his hand and a climb up the airplane steps, John Paul II said goodbye to St. Louis. It was the end of a brief but very moving and powerful visit by the Pope to St. Louis.

Before leaving, there was an evening prayer service at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis with religious dignitaries from different faiths, civic leaders and Vice President Al Gore. For the first time, a rabbi participated in a papal prayer service. "May this prayer signify our shared commitment to ever greater understanding and cooperation,'' the Pope said. The Cathedral service also provided an opportunity for the Holy Father to shake outstretched hands, hug children, bless rosaries and people as he walked down the main aisle.

In his homily during vespers, the Pope said, "Radical changes in world politics leave America with a heightened responsibility to be for the world an example of a genuinely free, democratic, just and humane society. America first proclaimed its independence on the basis of self-evident moral truths." The Holy Father cautioned the United States, "America will remain a beacon of freedom for the world as long as it stands by those moral truths which are the very heart of its historical experience. And so America: If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace truth - truth revealed by God."

"From salvation history we learn that power is responsibility; it is service, not privilege," he said. "It's exercise is morally justifiable when it is used for the good of all, when it is sensitive to the needs of the poor and defenseless."

At the end of the prayer service and before he left the Cathedral, the Holy Father spoke these parting words, "I would have wished to meet personally each one of the young people at the Kiel Center, and all the many other people at the Trans World Dome and here in the Cathedral Basilica, as well as along the routes and at the airport. I will always remember St. Louis. I will remember all of you. God bless St. Louis! God bless America!''."


Wednesday, January 27, 1999 ( EWTNews) Mass with Pope
As early as 4:00AM, thousands of people began to fill the Trans World Dome to celebrate Mass with Pope John Paul II. Lines several deep wrapped around the Trans World Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams, to enter a temporary cathedral for what is believed to be the largest indoor gathering ever in the United States. More than 100,000 people attended the only Mass the Holy Father celebrated during his brief visit in the United States.
In the welcoming remarks, Archbishop Justin Regali, Archdiocese of St. Louis, told the Pontiff, "for over a year the people of St. Louis have been praying for you, your health, your visit and good weather. Today it looks as is our prayers have been answered. The anticipation of your coming has been shared by fellow Christians and members of different faiths and we have been waiting to pray with you, hear your words and be uplifted by your blessing".
During his homily, the Holy Father encouraged Catholics in America to draw inspiration from their heritage for "new evangelization so urgently needed at the approach of the Third Christian Millennium." The Pope explained, "As the new evangelization unfolds, it must include a special emphasis on the family and renewal of Christian marriage; call for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation; and to put an end to every form of racism."
The Holy Father, in the name of Jesus, appealed to Catholics throughout the United States or wherever his voice or words may reach, "...especially to those who for one reason or another are separated from the practice of their faith. On the eve of the Great Jubilee of the two thousandth anniversary of the Incarnation, Christ is seeking you out and inviting you back to the community of faith."
"The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 will begin with the opening of the Holy Door in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome: this is a powerful symbol of the Church - open to everyone who feels a need for the love and mercy of the Heart of Christ.Father & Son Joyfully Listening to Holy Father
Our Christian life can be seen as a great pilgrimage to the house of the Father, which passes through the door that is Jesus Christ. The key to that door is repentance and conversion. The strength to pass through that door comes from our faith and hope and love. For many Catholics, an important part of the journey must be to rediscover the joy of belonging to the Church, to cherish the Church as the Lord has given her to us, as Mother and Teacher."