Celebrating the Pope’s Life

April 14-20
VOL 124 NO. 14
Celebrating the Pope’s Life
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Mass held at St. Rose of Lima Church in honor of Pope John Paul II

NORTH SYRACUSE — A Mass to honor Pope John Paul II was held on April 8 at St. Rose of Lima Church. The church was filled to capacity with students and teachers from St. Rose of Lima School and included worshipers from the community. The students played an active part in the Mass, which was celebrated by the church’s pastor Father James Kennedy. “The students and teachers wanted to express their love for the pope,” said Father Kennedy. “The Mass was enhanced by their presence. It was great.”

The Mass began as brother and sister Joel and Richelle Brousseau placed a framed picture of Pope John Paul II on a table situated near the altar. The picture had belonged to Joel and Richelle’s mother since she was a teenager. She donated it especially for the Mass.

Father Kennedy greeted those in attendance, explaining that everyone had gathered to honor the memory of the pope and to thank God for the 26 years that he led the Catholic Church.

Margaret Ostaszewski and her two young sons were among those who attended. “I thought it was beautiful the way the children participated,” said Ostaszewski. “Today they were celebrating. We were so blessed to have him as our leader. I hope we, as lay people, can carry out his mission.”

Sixth grade student Samantha Ballou read the first Scripture reading from the Book of Wisdom. “I wanted to do it,” said Samantha. “I’ve always liked reading in church. The Mass was very nice.”

Fifth grader Caitlyn Buckman also read at the special Mass. “Sister Catherine Laboure` asked me to read,” said Caitlyn.

Father Kennedy explained how Pope John Paul II coped with numerous challenges and adversity in his life as he was growing up. In spite of it all, he turned out to be a very strong human being. The pope’s mother died when he was nine and his older brother died as well when the pope was young. When the pope was eight years old, he endured The Great Depression. Nazis invaded the pope’s native Poland when he was 24 years old and communists took over his country when he was in seminary.

Father Kennedy told everyone that celebrating the Mass was a good way to express love for the pope and to honor his life. He reminded the congregation about the special relationship the pontiff shared with young people.

Father Kennedy explained that the pope had dedicated his life to the Blessed Mother and modeled his life after her.

Following Father Kennedy’s homily, fourth graders read their petitions. Erin Bench was the first student to read. “I was scared, but I’m glad I did it,” Erin said. When Sister Catherine proposed the idea of reading the petitions, the response from the children was so overwhelming, she arranged for the children to draw names from a hat so that they would have a chance to read.

Fourth grader Kyle Dlugolenski was carrying a silver coin with Pope John Paul II’s image on it. He said he got it from his teacher’s box of holy objects.

As the Mass continued, a number of third graders came to the altar to recite some facts about Pope John Paul II’s life. Each of the students recited one fact about the pope’s life while slides of the pope were simultaneously shown on an overhead screen.

The students mentioned that the pope was an excellent student and an avid athlete. His passions were poetry, religion and theater. He was very intelligent, a charming companion and a good listener.

The Mass was a way to show the children what a gift Pope John Paul II was to the Catholic Church.

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