Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 11, 2005
Faithful mourn a people's pope
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
He was a people's pope and it showed. An estimated 1,500 people packed St. Joseph's Basilica April 3 to celebrate the extraordinary life of John Paul II, who died April 2 at the age of 84.
At the Mass, Archbishop Thomas Collins described the pope as the epitome of Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity. "We see in him faith, hope and love," he told the congregation.
Embracing those virtues gave him the strength to face down the many evils that crossed his life: Nazism, communism, the culture of death, even an assassin's bullet.
"John Paul was a man of faith who faced evil constantly - always with a joyful spirit, the spirit of Christian hope," he said. "(Like the pope) we need to embrace these virtues."
The archbishop invited the congregation to think of some of the Gospel-based messages the pope gave to the world at key points of his pontificate such as "Be Not Afraid" and "Put Out into the Deep."
"These are words of hope," he said. "The spirit of Christian hope burned right within him. So on this day we need to root our lives in faith, hope and charity - virtues that are the foundation of our lives."
Many who attended the Mass said they were touched by the life of the pope.
"He is the ultimate example of living a Christian life," said Loren Zubis, who attended with his wife Marilou and their nine-month-old daughter Anna. "I'm happy he is in a better place, but sad for us because we are without his guidance. I'll remember him as a great teacher and an influential Church leader who was able to transform our world."
Renze Nauta, 19, attended the service to "pray for the repose of the Holy Father's soul and to celebrate the great things he has done, like fighting for justice in the world and fighting for the dignity of every human being."
Although Nauta never met the pope or attended World Youth Day, he said he has been touched by the many contributions the pontiff made to young people. "It's good to be Catholic because he was a wonderful pope and he was a great leader for us."
Dina deWit, a visitor from Nova Scotia, said she attended the Mass to celebrate what Pope John Paul stood for: world peace, healing of families, equality and spiritual conversion.
"He reached all over the world; he was a very global pope," she said. "I think he was very generous in that way so we became more connected to him; he wasn't just in the Vatican."
Fernando Diaz, a newcomer from Colombia shared, "He was never a distant pope; he brought the papacy to the faithful. He even visited my country."
Another memorial Mass for Pope John Paul will be held at the basilica Monday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m.
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