The sound of silence

April 7 – 13
VOL 124 NO. 13
The sound of silence
By Connie Cissell/ SUN editor
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Overwhelmingly the mood of the past weekend was somber and quiet. Very quiet. The leader of the Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, died April 2 and locally, worshippers began gathering at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception beginning with a Mass at 5:10 p.m. on April 1 in the chapel. At that time there were conflicting reports about the pope’s deteriorating health. Father John Donovan, who celebrated Mass for about 30 people, said it was appropriate that the readings for the Easter season referred to fishermen. “This helps us to understand the role of Peter,” Father Donovan said. “That the role of Peter, the role of the pope, is to be the ‘fisher of men.’ It is important that we be joyful and that we recognize what a true gift his [Pope John Paul II] life has been.”.

As the hours passed, members of the chancery staff met and went over plans in case of the pope’s death. Because of the situation, they monitored news accounts along with the rest of the world. Though a wedding was taking place at the Cathedral the afternoon of Pope John Paul II’s death, it was a reminder of how life’s joys continue despite the sadness of the passing of the pope. .

Father Joseph Champlin, rector of the Cathedral, celebrated the 5:10 p.m. Mass after the pope’s death. There was specific wording used reflective of the pope’s death and once again, a peaceful calm among those gathered. The Cathedral was full and people kept walking in throughout the Mass, shaking off the water from the day’s rain as they found a place to sit.

There were nurses there from downtown hospitals, there were youngsters with their parents and there were elderly worshippers with their heads bowed. It was a true depiction of the lives John Paul II touched..

Father Champlin noted that it was said that the pope wrote for an hour every morning meaning that he leaves behind numerous documents from all his years as pope. He spoke of the pope’s brilliance and his ability to spread the Good News just by his presence. Many priests had the opportunity to celebrate Mass with the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church over the years, Father Champlin said, and many he said, were “stunned” by the pope’s holiness.

“He was a man of deep prayer, of mercy and of devotion to our Blessed Mother,” Father Champlin said. “It is said when his father died, he kneeled by the casket for 12 hours in prayer. That is the intensity of his reflective prayer.” .

Among the congregation was Patrick Lane, a 16-year-old parishioner of St. Michael’s Church on Onondaga Hill. He said what he would remember most about the pope was breakdancing. “I will remember him for what he did for kids,” Patrick said. “You know, how happy he was when the kids were breakdancing.” The institution of World Youth Day seemed to be one of the pope’s personal highlights. The footage and photos of events he attended with youth express such great joy and fun — it seemed as if the pope enjoyed those gatherings at least as much as the people who attended. And Tina Caloia, a Cathedral parishioner, said she felt like she had lost a member of her family. “I think he was a people’s pope. He was a true human being, very personable,” she said..

Both bishops were at the 9:30 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral the morning after Pope John Paul II’s death. Both had the chance to meet the pope on more than one occasion. Upon hearing about his death the day before, Bishop James Moynihan noted that Pope John Paul II had a “Carmelite soul” reflecting the pope’s dedication to prayer and contemplation. Bishop Moynihan also said that he had something of a “layperson’s soul,” noting the friendships with lay people the pope had made over the years. These relationships helped the pope gain insight into the mission of laypeople, Bishop Moynihan said. .

Bishop Costello said upon hearing about the death of the pope, “It is without question too soon to appreciate the full magnitude of this pope’s contributions to this world and his church. His efforts to foster unity and peace, his ecumenical outreach, his personal presence to people by traveling to so many lands, his teaching prowess, his example of holiness, his patience with suffering — so many facets to a life which history will eventually recognize as heroically virtuous.”.

During his homily at the morning Mass, Bishop Moynihan recounted a visit the pope made to Madrid two years ago. The pope received a welcome there typically reserved for only pop stars or rock stars, the bishop said. He became energized by the crowds and was able to continue the appearance until darkness had fallen. “I am a young man of 83,” the pope quipped..

“That’s my image. I believe it is the world’s image of our Holy Father,” Bishop Moynihan told the people in the filled Cathedral. “He is as young as we are, and as young as we would like to be. In fact, he’s younger!”.

Since his first days as Bishop of Rome, Bishop Moynihan said, the Holy Father repeated the phrase, “Do not be afraid,” a phrase spoken first by Jesus to Peter..

“In each one of those exhortations, he is summoning us to courage and to trust in the providence of an all-loving God,” the bishop said. “He’s telling us to not be hesitant to take a stand for the poor, to take a stand for peace, to take a stand for the child in the womb, to take a stand for the elderly and the disabled, to take a stand for freedom in public discourse, to take a stand for decency in public displays and entertainments.”.

“‘Put aside your uncertainty,’ he tells us,” Bishop Moynihan said. “‘Conquer your fears. Deal with challenges boldly.’” The Lord is with you.’”

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