A private audience with ‘a holy and humble man'

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:59

    MONROE-As a young seminarian in Yonkers, the Rev. Vincent deP. Howley, had an unexpected private audience with Pope John Paul II. There would be other chance meetings as well, each of which remain vivid for the man who is now the Parochial Vicar of Sacred Heart Church in Monroe. His first encounter with the pontiff was in 1995 at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers. Because of security concern, Howley and several other seminarians were sequestered in a private office with the Pope. "We spoke to him for several minutes," the priest recalled. "Mostly, he inquired about us - our vocations, how we liked it - and asked about our studies. He was very pleasant. "This was all very unusual because nobody really gets to speak with him," deP. Howley added. "This was truly a private audience." The next meeting would be in Central Park. The pope greeted the seminarians one by one and when he got deP. Howley, the pontiff smiled and said, "Again." He saw John Paul II on two other occasions. This time it was in Rome for the 100th anniversary of the Seminaries of New York. "I was with my parents," deP. Howley said. "The pope recently had hip surgery and noticed my mother walking with her cane. He asked her how she managed it and how long she had been using it. Then he got into a discussion with my father, who was an orthopedic surgeon. That conversation changed their lives. They still talk about their meeting with the Holy Father. The Monroe priest said those meetings over the years with John Paul II have significantly affected his life and his vocation. "To be in his presence," deP. Howley said, "you knew you were in the presence of a holy and humble man."