Lawrence resident Jim Scally's vacation to Italy with old friends was a relaxing pastoral experience.
Scally's three-week visit to Rome, Florence and Venice included a private Mass with Pope John Paul II.
The 72-year-old pontiff celebrated Mass June 24 at his private Vatican chapel with members of Scally's traveling party and delegations from Spain and Czechoslovakia.
"The Mass was conducted in Czech, English, Latin and Spanish," Scally said. "After Mass we went to a large conference room overlooking St. Peter's Square."
"He joined us and group photos were taken. Then he greeted each person individually," he said.
Scally, an assistant to Kansas University Chancellor Gene Budig, was in Italy to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ordination of the Rev. Thomas Michel.
Michel heads the Vatican's office of Islam.
Scally and Michel grew up together in St. Louis. Scally's traveling party included several other school classmates.
Italian news reports said today that the pope may undergo surgery for either an intestinal blockage or a colon tumor. The pope went to the hospital Sunday.
"He looked tired and moved less vigorously than I would have expected," Scally said, "but he is only in his early 70s. There was no indication that he was ill."