Hundreds of thousands of people were there on the day, and thousands more listened to the events on BBC GMR.
The visit was decided upon by the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales who decided that they would invite the Holy Father to visit all five provinces.
|The Pope in Heaton Park|
The man responsible for co-ordinating the open-air mass was Monsignor John Allen. “There were all sorts of snags along the way. Twelve months before the visit was due there was an attempt made on his life and then just before the visit there was the Argentine conflict and right up to the last minute the visit was in jeopardy.”
Cannon Kevin O’Connor was put in charge of the music and as part of his role he had the job of putting together a choir of nearly 3,000 voices. “We invited all those who were members of Parish Choirs all over Salford Diocese. It was a matter of gathering together in large church, anywhere where we could get anything up to a thousand people together for a choir practice.”
For twelve priests it was to be an extra special day as they were to be ordained by the Pope at the service in Heaton Park.
Father Kevin Faulks was one of those to be ordained. “It was unexpected that I would be chosen to be one of the twelve. To be ordained by the Pope on his only visit to the UK was quite tremendous.”
The Pope’s visit to Heaton Park was also an exciting and demanding time for the media. Working at BBC GMR at the time, reporter Peter Harrison had the job of reporting on the Pope’s arrival, but for him the sight of excited nuns is one that will always remain with him.
“I remember at one point during the commentary that the nuns were all lined up on a circular wall, "says Peter. "When the Pope’s helicopter arrived they started to fall off the wall backwards into the ornamental flower beds. Few of us have had the delightful experience of seeing a nun fall backwards into a flower bed and on this occasion there must have been a dozen of them.”