By Andrew Tran


Andrew is currently in Rome taking a summer course offered by the Friars: “Ecumenical and Interreligious Movements from a Catholic Perspective.” 


“Hey guys, do you want to watch a movie tonight?”


The three guys, Father Jim, and I all gathered around the TV set in the second floor of the Waverly Place Friary. The Netflix movie “Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism” caught our eye since we thought that it would be a good preparation for us to learn about the great Pope who influenced much of ecumenism today. As I witnessed how Karol Wojtya grew up from a humble family working in hard labor to a figure of hope who led an entire country out of oppression, I was amazed how this one man received his entire power from the same bread I eat every Sunday. Even as he stood as a leader in front of millions of people, he still lowered himself and bowed before the Eucharist during transubstantiation. I realized that Pope John Paul II and the oppressed people of Poland defeated the entire Soviet Union with a power they held in between their fingers or on the palm of their hand.


Fast forward and now I am attending Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. While the Italian priest was reciting the Eucharistic prayer, I was deeply moved because I knew that Pope John Paul II must have been up there and said the same prayer as well. And so did the previous popes, so did the martyrs, so did all the men who sacrificed their lives on that altar so that the Hope in Jesus Christ can survive in this world today. And what I was witnessing on that altar was the pinnacle point of all this trust desperately longed for throughout the world. I was so overwhelmed that I was on the verge of tears. “Father, why do you give me this heart that longs for You so much that it hurts?” I prayed, “I feel so small when there’s so many things around the world, but please move me according to Your will.”