St. John Paul II was a beloved pope. As one of the longest-serving Vicars of Christ, he is known for influencing the fall of communism in his day and his passion for serving young people.
There is much to be said about the life and legacy of St. John Paul II, but today we’ll focus on how he led millions of youth closer to Christ.
In his book Saints At Heart: How Fault-Filled, Problem-Prone, Imperfect People Like Us Can Be Holy, Bert Ghezzi explains how we can be like St. John Paul Il. Through the movement known as the “New Evangelization,” John Paul II prioritized calling all Catholics to go and make disciples of all nations.
The New Evangelization was revolutionary because the Pope did not just call on those in religious life to lead others to Christ. He especially called on the laity to take part in leading young people to the Faith.
In 1985, Pope John Paul II invited the youth of the world to join him in Rome on Palm Sunday. He expected 60,000 people to join; nearly half a million young people journeyed to hear the Pope’s message. Beginning the following year, the Vatican held World Youth Day every three years, welcoming millions of youth to make the pilgrimage to this event.
Bert Ghezzi explains how we can follow St. John Paul II’s call and participate in the New Evangelization even in the smallest ways:
“The New Evangelization charges laypeople with transforming their culture by living out the requirements of the gospel in all their social environments. However, Pope John Paul II’s example may seem too big, too daunting for us to imitate…Even so, we must consider making choices that allow God to act through us to care for others…We need to behave in ways to show that God is working to set things right in our worlds. Just like Pope John Paul II—on a small scale, perhaps, but following his example nonetheless.”
Participating in the New Evangelization and leading others to Christ does not require you to gather millions of young people to join you for an international conference. You can answer St. John Paul II’s call by leading Sunday School, working with a youth group, serving at a homeless shelter, visiting the elderly and the sick, or reaching out to those in need of Christ’s love. You can be a source of joy and encouragement for your family members and co-workers. It’s as simple as that.
To learn more about how you can imitate the lives of the saints, check out Bert Ghezzi’s Saints At Heart, sold here.