In response to a movement of the Spirit, Shirley Wanchena, Founder and Director of Pacem in Terris, and her son Jeffrey started planning a pilgrimage to Rome to receive a blessing for Pacem in Terris. They looked at their schedules and picked May of 1992. They were told they would be given tickets to Wednesday’s General Audience, so they assumed they would be a speck in the overflowing audience. They heeded the warning to get there early. As the guards checked tickets, they kept on being motioned forward in the crowd.
They had two hours to ponder how they ended up in two, of only 30, front row box seats! The Pope walked down to greet each person in those seats, including Shirley and Jeffrey. He blessed each one! But the greeting did not allow for them to request a blessing for Pacem in Terris.
They spent the next two days like other pilgrims in Rome, touring various sights and spending time in prayer. They had to leave Rome for Assisi on Saturday. At 1:15 pm on Friday, the call came for them to be at the Pope’s private apartment at 6:15 a.m. the next day (Saturday).
They were ushered into the Pope’s private chapel with 30 others. The Pope presided at Mass, and then the group was ushered to the library. Each small group met with the Pope about their petitions. He had obviously read about Pacem in Terris from a packet of information sent previously, so when he greeted the Wanchenas, he seemed to know all about Pacem.
He said “ I bless you and I bless your hermitage sanctuary”
The Wanchenas left floating on air– it was definitely a mountaintop experience!