More than 100 people gathered at St. Joseph Catholic Church Monday night to honor the recently deceased Pope John Paul II. The Fort Collins Catholic community mourned the pope's death, and his 26-year period serving as leader of the Catholic religion.
"Tonight we are joining the world to pray for Pope John Paul II," Father Roger Lascelle said. More than 100 people gathered at St. Joseph Catholic Church Monday night to honor the recently deceased Pope John Paul II. The Fort Collins Catholic community mourned the pope's death, and his 26-year period serving as leader of the Catholic religion."Tonight we are joining the world to pray for Pope John Paul II," Father Roger Lascelle said.
Born in 1920, Pope John Paul II was the first Polish pope and began his reign in October 1974 after having been ordained as a priest in November 1945. John Paul II was the 263rd successor to the first pope, Saint Peter. During his reign, John Paul II visited 129 countries, and was the first pope to ever visit the United States. Along with this history, Lascelle also attributed part of the liberation of Eastern Europe from communism to John Paul II.
"I had a chance to be in his presence in 1993," said Jeanette Coleman, St. Joseph parish center receptionist. "I was amazed by him. He was holy, spiritual, wonderful and a great leader."
The service included prayer, song, candles and a sermon dedicated to the memory of the Catholic leader.
Lascelle spoke about the pope's encouragement for the youth ministry, believing youth are the religious leaders of tomorrow.
Lascelle quoted the pope as saying, "Young people are a great force in society and evangelization."
Lascelle said Pope John Paul II also desired to spread God's word of peace. He believed the way to truth and justice entailed tranquility.
"Social justice cannot be created by violence," Lascelle quoted the pope as saying. "Violence kills what it intends to stop."
While many Catholics around the world are saddened by the pope's death, some are also questioning what will happen next. According to Coleman, after a pope's funeral, there are 19 days of mourning in which no talk of a new pope occurs. It is important to recognize that the 19 days begin after the funeral, not after the death. However, on April 18, Cardinals of the Catholic Church will gather together to elect a new pope.
"These aren't the elections we're used to," Coleman said. "The Cardinals gather without speaking, and we believe the Holy Spirit will select the next pope."
The ceremony is conducted with much prayer and very little speech. There are no candidates for pope and no volunteers. Any unmarried male can become the next pope.
The pope's position does not require a priest, and if the selected male is not a priest, he will immediately be ordained before entering into leadership.
"I don't know what to expect," Coleman said. "God is in control and everything will be fine."
Although Pope John Paul II is no longer alive, the people of St. Joseph, as well as many in the Catholic community around the world believe his spirit still resides with them in their thoughts and prayers. Lascelle also expressed his desire to carry on the pope's legacy through each Catholic's life.
"We will honor him in the best way possible; by imitating him," Lascelle said.