The visit of Pope Francis to Canada is reminiscent of that of John Paul II in September 1984.
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Despite the heavy rain that fell in Trois-Rivières on September 10, the visit had been crowned with success. The organization had however had a period of one year to finalize the plans and to prepare against two months in the case of François.
"The main office started up at least in September 1983, so we had almost a year to go through the files little by little because everyone developed in turn," recalls Gilles Leblanc , who acted as communications officer for the visit of John Paul II.
The medical coordinator notes that no detail had been overlooked. Thus, in the event of failure of the pope, it was planned to direct him to the Sainte-Marie hospital in Trois-Rivières, where an exclusive team of specialists, including a neurosurgeon, had been placed on standby.
“They were ready. They had his bloodwork. They had his medical report. They had all the information to be able to know the patient and treat him in the most appropriate way, ”says René Chevrette, former member of the Mauricie Health Department.
That day, the rain could have ruined everything, but the level of preparation of the organization made it possible to avoid any questioning of the program.
“We didn't really have a problem with the crowd (110,000 faithful) except that the small benches (made of cardboard, despite the rain) that they had bought were collapsing. It became a test of endurance,” adds the communications manager.