World, students mourn pope’s death

Rachel Abbey

Local Catholics react to death of Pope

A man prays yesterday afternoon at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel next to the university’s Newman Center. There will be a 7 p.m. service held tomorrow night to honor the passing of the pontiff.

Credit: Rachel Abbey

Yesterday began the traditional nine-day mourning period for the Catholic community in honor of the late Pope John Paul II, who died Saturday.

“He was not afraid to touch the woundedness of the world,” said Father John Jerek, Pastor of the University Parish Newman Center, in his sermon last night.

The pope had been an inspiration to many followers, and Jerek encouraged the parish to keep faith upon the loss of its leader, known for his emphasis on unity.

Two special masses will be held in light of the pope’s death. A mass will be held 7 p.m. tomorrow in honor of Pope John Paul II. Also, a mass for the Cardinals choosing the next pope will be held April 14.

The pope’s death raised many emotions among the Catholic community.

“For most Catholics, it’s a mixed reaction,” said Carmen Roebke, pastoral associate for Christian Formation for the Newman Center. “We’re happy our pope is not suffering.”

However, Roebke said there is still great sadness in the community because Pope John Paul II was a great unifier and peacemaker.

“We mourn him as we would the loss of a member of our family,” she said.

Students expressed sadness at the loss of who was the only pope they had ever known.

“His presence is really missed,” said Nicholas Hosmer, pastoral associate for Campus Ministry for the Newman Center. “I notice it as someone who works with the parishioners and the students. This is a new thing for a lot of people.”

Hosmer said there seems to be a lot of sadness and uncertainty among the youth of the Church. Not only is this the first time experiencing something like this, but Pope John Paul II often reached out to young Catholics.

Pope John Paul II oversaw the Catholic church for more than 27 years. His passing means another pope will have to be elected, which is a process many Catholic college students have not witnessed.

“We don’t realize how many different agendas there can be,” Bartholet said.

The Catholic Church represents people from many different walks of life, Bartholet said. As a college student in America, it is easy to forget some of the many issues affecting the Catholic community across the world, and candidates for the position of the next pope will have various views.

For example, many young Catholics in the United States are concerned with the possibility of married priests or women in the priesthood.

“We don’t realize there’s a faction of Catholics in Africa that just need food,” Bartholet said.

However, these issues will not be addressed until after the nine-day period of mourning has come to a close. Roebke said the main concern now is the mourning of a world leader and the inevitable change will occur after that has been completed.

The pope’s death has affected people across the world, as well as close to home. Jaroslaw Zakrzewski, a freshman exploratory major from Poland, said he is saddened and worried by the pope’s death. People have been gathering by the thousands in Poland to mourn and be together, Zakrzewski said. Poland is the home country of Pope John Paul II.

“We will miss him, but he is still in our hearts,” Zakrzewski said.

Contact academics reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].