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Leader of St. Joseph Remembers Meeting the Pope

By: Jennifer Cavazos
By: Jennifer Cavazos

Jack Buckley is the newly appointed president and CEO of St. Joseph Health System in Bryan. He's remembering back to 1987, when he was head of St. Joseph in Phoenix and had the honor of meeting Pope John Paul II.

"He's very warm, very ingratiating but around him in his immediate area, there's this calmness. A sense of serenity of peacefulness that despite all the hustle and bustle next to him. But around him was a 2 foot circle like a halo. It just stayed wherever we went that day. It was something very special." says Buckley.

He remembers getting the phone call 2 years prior when the Pope was scheduled to make his U-S tour. And being in shock that he wanted to visit the hospital before his mass at the ASU stadium.

"I said bishop ask the question again would you please. He said, can the pope come to St. Joseph’s? I said yes sir, we'll make happen whatever you need happen. OK, but don't tell anybody, its gotta be a secret, I’ll talk to you on Monday. OK bishop, you have a good weekend and that was it," says Buckley.

Buckley says the pontiff wanted to visit with the patients before his crowd of 5,000 people waiting for him outside the hospital. He said there was a special aura when he visited the pediatric unit.

"We heard exchanges, as I was standing next to him, in English, Spanish and all of a sudden, there's a language I couldn't recognize. Turns out it was polish. It was a young woman who was a pediatric resident with us and she was confirmed by him when he was Bishop of Krakow so it was an amazing reunion for them," says Buckley.

As Buckley looks through pictures and reminisces, he remembers the most peaceful and powerful man in the world traveled with more security than most other visiting dignitaries. But thinks the pope's legacy will be a strong one.

"We'll benefit from the changes being made. But we'll see it was a part of the growth of the church. We'll see they're part of the staying true to teachings of Jesus Christ. That's the bottom line," says Buckley.


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