Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 20, 2003
Pope called 'example to us all'
Archbishop tells congregation to follow in pontiff's footsteps
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Pope John Paul is a pontiff who focuses on what really matters in life - love of God and neighbour and service to the Lord, said Archbishop Thomas Collins.
Speaking at a Mass marking the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul's election, Collins called on the congregation to follow in the pope's footsteps.
"He is a man who does not spend his time on things that don't matter. He is focused on service to the Lord. We may not all be called to be pope but we are all called to serve like him."
About 700 people attended the Oct. 12 Mass, a regular Sunday celebration at St. Joseph Basilica.
When John Paul was elected Oct. 16, 1978, Catholics were all proud of a pope so spectacular on a human level, noted the archbishop. He was a man of great physical ability who would walk great distances and would often ski down the mountains.
Today, at 83, the pope is frail and hobbled by Parkinson's disease and other ailments. "His physical ability is beginning to be stripped away but we still see a man dedicated to loving God and neighbour," Collins said. "He is frail but he is concentrated on serving the Lord. He is an example to all of us."
The archbishop said John Paul has served as successor of the chair of St. Peter like a true disciple of the Lord, bringing honour to the papal office. His pontificate has helped shape world events, set new directions for the Church and offered inspiration to millions of people around the world.
"He is a man who speaks of justice as he did on his visit to Edmonton several years ago. He speaks of a culture of death and proclaims a culture of life. He emphasizes the dignity of the human person."
In a province like Alberta, where there is so much and so many are suffering, the pope's message of justice and equality still has relevance, the archbishop said. "We thank the Lord for the blessing he gave us in the holy father."
The congregation was equally praising of the now frail man who has led the Church for the past 25 years. "He is a fine example to all of us in his devotion to the Lord and his dedication to his chair," said Anita Patsula, a St. Joseph's parishioner.
"What stuck with me at Mass today is that no matter what age we are, we can still be relevant (like the pope) and we are still God's people. He is a true role model, one who has attempted to reconcile different parts of the world with his travels."
Robert Picard, also a parishioner, said it takes about 80 years before someone becomes a saint. "I bet it will only take 15 years to make him a saint; I think he is a living saint. His overall ministry as pope has been excellent, especially for these times."
Polish born Anne Choney said her compatriot John Paul has been a "tremendous role model" for all Catholics. "I truly appreciate what he has done for Poland. He has such a deep love for his country. He fought against communism and helped liberate Poland and Eastern Europe."