Fond memories of guarding the Pope
By LEONIE BRANN
WORKING for the NSW Police, Deryck Barton knew he would meet his share of unsavoury characters, but he never expected to get up close and personal with one of the world's most loved leaders ? His Holiness John Paul II.
"It was one of the highlights of my career to be put in charge of security, receiving and examining all deliveries of gifts to his Holiness?...?during his first visit to Sydney in 1986," said the retired Detective Senior Constable, who now lives at Lismore Heights.
"At the end of the Pope's visit he met about 40 of us who had been involved with his protection at St Mary's Cathedral.
"He thanked us all, personally shaking hands with us and blessing us, also giving us a set of rosary beads and a gold medallion commemorating his visit.
"Meeting the Pope was a uniquely special holy moment for me. He was such a compassionate and humble man."
Mr Barton remembered fondly a special meeting between the Pope and another member of the tour security group, when the Polish Pontiff was introduced to a woman, of about the same age, who was born in the same town as the Pope.
"They had a very happy conversation in their native tongue, and I guess because of the tight schedule the Pope had to follow, his minders had to move him along, which he reluctantly did exhibiting the love and compassion he felt for this lady," said the Roman Catholic convert, who took on the religion to marry his wife Judy.
"I am not a practising Catholic, and my wife no longer is a practising Catholic because she has been led by my bad example.
"I had never taken much interest in the Pope before I got to meet his Holiness. But I'll tell you, getting to meet the Pope was something."