...an end-of-term day of reflection and study on the Faith at St George's College, Southampton, in which I was privileged to have a part. I was invited to speak about the life and message of St John Paul the Great, and it was a joy to open up to a new generation the story of his remarkable life and his superb Christian leadership. Exciting, too - it all brought back memories of being in Poland under martial law in the last days of Communist oppression. It's all so different now: today's Krakow is fashionable shops and busy bars and restaurants, limitless wines and well-stacked supermarket shelves... it's difficult to remember how grey things seemed back then, but also how precious and exciting were the gatherings of friends, the conversations, the barbed jokes about the government, the sense of honesty in a country dominated by official lies but exulting in deep-rooted hopes of freedom.
Teenagers at St G's were small children when JPII went to his reward in 2005 - to them he is history. But - perhaps because of this - they loved hearing about him, about Poland, about his dramatic life story about "Do not be afraid", about his plays and poetry, his skiing and hiking, his rich theology, his stirring call to reject consumerism, to build something better, to live nobly, to live truthfully, to build families for tomorrow, to focus on a new civilisation of love.
We all lived through a glorious adventure with the pontificate of St JP, and his legacy to us is not only rich in teaching - let's hear his voice resonate in the Synod in Rome this Autumn, tackling marriage and family life - but also identified by a call to courage and to faith in the future.