When I recollect the day of October 16, 1978, I remember a gray, Fall day and a quick sundown. In the Krakow seminary, where I resided during my third year of studies, we were in a “Day of Reflection”, a day of silence and prayer. It was a time of the new pope’s election. Our holy father encouraged us to pray to the Holy Spirit so that the person selected is one that is most deserving of the title “Pastor of the World”. Even though we were required to obtain “silentium sacrum” – holy silence, we all felt the one ever-burning question: Which cardinal will be selected as the next pope?
At 5:00 PM, we gathered in the seminary’s chapel to hear the last conference of the day. Right before 6:00 PM, Fr. Franciszek Macharski stormed in like the wind and interrupted the conference, revealing the great news from the Vatican radio that the new pope is our own Krakow’s bishop, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. For a moment, everyone was silent as if though they did not believe their ears. Then after a few seconds, the chapel was filled with cheers of great joy. With tears in our eyes, we exchanged hugs and laughed like little children.