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Area residents remember Pope had a 'way' about him

April 03, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

TRI-STATE - Gregory I. Snook remembers it was a Wednesday last year when Pope John Paul II appeared in his Vatican apartment window and blessed the crowd that gathered below.

"It was a dream come true to be able to see that," said Snook, who was part of the audience. "It was something I'll never forget."

Snook, Washington County Commissioners president and a Catholic, said the audience was in awe as well.

"You could just feel the goose bumps," he said.

"It's a huge loss, not only for the country but for the whole world," Snook said Saturday of Pope John Paul II's death. "He was hope for 27 years."

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Although thousands of the faithful were known to gather around the Holy Father, the Rev. Brian Shoda said the pope had a natural way of making each of them feel special.

"He had a way of just making you feel like he was right there with you," said Shoda, of Saint Leo Roman Catholic Church in Inwood, W.Va. "He'd take his time to really look at everybody. You just felt so close to him."

Shoda described the pontiff as a man who held strong moral convictions and who relentlessly reached out to the world.

"He was a great man," he said. "He suffered a lot in his life, and yet he was always strong. He kept going."

"John Paul II, I think, changed the way we'll look at the papacy forever," Shoda said. "I think that he really was a great shepherd."

Shoda said Saint Leo celebrated a Mass for the pope Saturday at noon, and while the Mass was unannounced, about 150 people showed up.

"We're going to pray for him at every Mass this weekend," he said.

Scott and Lisa Carpegna of Hagerstown stopped to comment on the pope's death Saturday after Mass at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Hagerstown.

"I'm sad, but yet happy for him - that he's finally reached what he's longed for and worked for all his life," Lisa Carpegna said.

Scott Carpegna said he'll miss "the peace that he brought, especially to the young kids."

"It'll be hard to fill his shoes," Lisa Carpegna said.

Kay O'Malley of Waverly, Pa., said after Mass that she will miss the pope's "gentle kindness."

"I was very sad," O'Malley said. "I think he's a wonderful man and a marvelous pope."

"It's sad," Cheryl Jae said after Mass. "I guess it saddens us all."

Saint Mary's will hold a recitation of the rosary for the pope today at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the Rev. George Lemmer said.

Mourners also will be able to sign a book of condolence at Rosedale Funeral Home Chapel in Martinsburg, W.Va., from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through April 11. The book then will be sent to the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Joseph Cosgrove, pastor of Saint Peter's Catholic Church in Hancock, said parishioners there turned out for a special "Holy Hour" Saturday afternoon.

"There are a lot of parishioners who are praying and who are coming together," Cosgrove said. "He's a person of great personal integrity and courage and conviction."

Washington County Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell called the pope's death an end of an era.

"I think he kind of touched all of us differently," said Wivell, who saw the pope years ago during a visit to Baltimore.

"He certainly had a persona that naturally attracted folks to him," Wivell said. "You felt like you were very close to the man, and certainly, you felt that the world was a much safer place with him being in it."

National leaders also remembered the Holy Father on Saturday.

"The Pope has provided inspiration, leadership and hope through a tumultuous period in the world's history and has been a powerful presence in the lives of not just Catholics, but people of all faiths," said U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. "John Paul II had been a man of peace, someone who was extraordinary in reaching out to all people in his tireless efforts to improve the human condition."

Rockefeller praised the pope for his opposition to Nazism during World War II and the Cold War.

"Pope John Paul II was a beacon of light and freedom for all people of the world," Rockefeller said. "Throughout his papacy, he reached out to promote religious freedom, economic justice and peace. As head of the Catholic Church, he held great power, but he acted with humbleness and quiet authority."

"Pope John Paul II was an extraordinary man, an inspiring witness of faith in God, and an influential world leader," U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., said in a written statement. "He expanded peace and freedom for millions of people. He was an unwavering champion of human rights, human dignity and the right to life."

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