By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4)– In August 1993, hundreds of thousands of young Catholics gathered in Denver from all over the globe. They came for the first World Youth Day held in North America and the first in an English-speaking country. They were thrilled to see their rock star, Pope John Paul II.
Rev. Felix Medina was a 20-year-old student when he traveled to Denver from Spain for World Youth Day. He never dreamed he’d be back.
“The first thing that struck me was the beauty of this country and the welcoming spirit of the people,” Medina told CBS4’s Kathy Walsh.
At the time, he was a university student studying mathematics. He’d been brought up Catholic, but had strayed.
“Getting drunk every night, feeling abandoned, worthless,” he said.
At World Youth Day, Medina was rekindling his faith. He joined thousands of young pilgrims trekking 14 miles to attend Pope John Paul II’s mass at Cherry Creek State Park.
But in the crowd of about 375,000…
“I heard the Pope talking to my heart, talking to me in the middle of the crowd. I could hear him saying, ‘It is not the time to be afraid,'” Medina said. “It’s the time to share with others how much the Lord has given you.”
Back home, young Medina couldn’t forget John Paul’s words.
“I never wanted to be a priest,” he said.
But in 1996, he entered a missionary seminary. He could be sent anywhere to train to be a priest. In a lottery, Felix got Denver. He was ordained in 2004.
“Coincidence or divine intervention?” asked Walsh.
“For sure divine intervention because God plans everything,” said Medina.
Since 2013, God’s plan has included Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Aurora.
Medina is pastor of the parish that is in urgent need of building improvements. Nearly 80 percent of the 6,000 plus parishioners are immigrants. Twenty-five years after the Pope’s call, Rev. Medina remains a missionary.
“Welcome the people as they are, what you find them and lead them step by step, little by little, on a journey of faith,” he said.
Medina has faith that Queen of Peace will be able to raise the money to build a new $12.5 million parish center.
LINK: Queen Of Peace