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Area Catholics remember pope, look to the future

April 09, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HALFWAY - Two years after his assassination attempt, Pope John Paul II met and forgave the man who tried to kill him.

The act, the Rev. M. Shawn Mahon said Friday, was a remarkable moment that showed what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

"John Paul II truly lived the Gospel," he said.

While millions watched or attended the funeral Mass for the Holy Father at the Vatican on Friday, Catholics at Saint Joseph Catholic Church in Halfway also celebrated John Paul II and his 26-year pontificate in a memorial Mass.

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Mahon described the pope in the 8 a.m. Mass as a loving, forgiving, gentle shepherd. He also said the pope was a gift from God who preached the Gospel to people of all faiths.

"We join in prayer with the Church throughout the entire world ... and we give praise and thanks to God for this loving and faith-filled man," Mahon said during his homily.

Mahon said a touching part of the pope's Vatican funeral was when the crown began calling for sainthood for the pontiff.

"I'm sure that we will see that in the near future," he said.

Local churchgoers, who nearly filled Saint Joseph, signed a condolence book for the pope and received prayer cards bearing his photo after Mass.

Parishioner Louise Lyerly said she has closely followed the coverage of the pope's death and was confident John Paul II's successor will be a good choice.

On April 18, 117 of the world's eligible cardinals are to participate in the conclave at the Vatican to elect a new pope.

"I hope it will be somebody who's in tune with the world today and who will reach out," Lyerly said.

With the large number of Catholics living in South America, parishioner Greg Hannigan said he wouldn't be surprised if that's where the next pope is from.

He also said he thought the cardinals would elect someone who held similar convictions as John Paul II.

"John Paul looked to make a cardinal people who would share the values he would share ..." Hannigan said.

"I think it would be hard to fill Pope John Paul's shoes," parishioner Dolores Vidoni said.

She said she hoped the next pope makes himself available to the people as John Paul II did.

"I hope he becomes a people's pope like John Paul," Vidoni said.

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