Thousand Oaks Acorn: April 7, 2005
by Sylvie Belmond


OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME - Lake Sherwood resident Anne Lockhart, an actress, meets Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square. The photo was taken in 1985 when Lockhart was shooting a movie.



The passing of Pope John Paul II on April 2 moved billions of people, both believers and nonbelievers, to reflect on the life of an extraordinary human being.

"Pope John Paul IIís legacy will surely be the human face he gave to the world," said actress and Lake Sherwood resident Anne Lockhart, who met the pope in Rome in 1985.

Born in Poland in 1920, Karol Jozef Wojtyla became the longest-serving leader of the Catholic Church. Since the age of 58, when he was chosen to serve as pontiff, Pope John Paul II acted as a bridge between God and the faithful.

As he reached out to all religions and crossed generational boundaries, he stayed true to his convictions.

Lockhart, a Catholic, said her encounter with the pope was overwhelmingly emotional.

While she was shooting a film in Rome, she was invited to attend a papal audience in St. Peterís Square with her mother, actress June Lockhart, and friend, actress Kay Lenz.

It was a very powerful experience, Lockhart recollected. "I was sure excited to be there, but wasnít prepared for how his arrival affected me. My knees buckled and I burst into tears. He was so charismatic," Lockhart said.

At the end of the audience, the pope began making his way toward the women, extending his hand. "My heart was pounding as I couldnít think of a single thing to say," said Lockhart.

"Holy Father, I am from America and I am so very happy to meet you," she managed to say.

The pope replied, "Ah... America."

As the pope moved on, a man from New York took his hand and said, "Your Holiness, these three women are very famous actresses from Hollywood."

The pope stopped, turned back, and with a great big grin on his face, raised both hands in the air and said loudly and with delight, "Ah! Hollywood!" Those were two words Lockhart never expected to hear the pope say.

This brief meeting and the popeís twinkling eyes will stay with her forever, Lockhart said. John Paul IIís earlier work as a playwright and an actor also struck a chord with her.

"I believe it played a large part in his amazing communication skills. He had a delightful sense of humor as well," she said.

"I consider myself very lucky to have met him and received his blessing," she concluded.