While hundreds of thousands gathered around the Vatican last week to honor the late Pope John Paul II, students, faculty and Coral Gables citizens came together at the St. Augustine Catholic Church, the University’s Catholic Ministry, for a funeral service on Thursday.
“The mood of the mass was joyful,” Adam McMahon, director of the campus ministry, said. “Because he led his life to the fullest, and we lived in privileged times to have lived with Pope John Paul II.”
Carey McIntyre, a junior who attended the mass, agreed.
“It was a celebration of his passing on,” he said. “For the Catholic community it’s a celebration because we know where he’s going. We know he’s going to heaven.”
The mass, attended by about 200 people, consisted of a regular mass, readings of scriptures that were relevant to the Pope, and a reflection of his life.
“[Father Bernard Kirlin] emphasized how he was a servant of God, how the role of the Pope is to be a servant of the servants of God,” McMahon said. “When you’re in the presence of the Pope and he’s looking at you, you feel as if you’re the only person in the world to him.”
Since the Pope’s death on April 2, millions of people have visited Rome, waiting in lines for hours to pay their last respects. In communities worldwide, and at UM, Catholics and non-Catholics alike have felt the impact of his death and have gathered to remember and honor his life.
“I’m a new convert to the Catholic faith and Pope John Paul II was one of the biggest reasons I became a Catholic,” McIntyre said. “He was a great humanitarian, a generally good person.”
John T. Fitzgerald, associate professor in the department of Religious Studies, felt that the Pope’s influence stretched beyond the spiritual.
“His leadership in confronting communism in Poland, leadership in moving eastern European countries toward equal rights in a democratic process left a profound impact in Europe and will have consequences for a very long time,” Fitzgerald said.
“While I’m not religious, the Pope’s death was a major loss to humanity as a whole because he did defend certain ideals, like equality, but not necessarily through communism,” Andy Senda, senior, said.
In addition to the funeral mass, St. Augustine set up a table in the UC Breezeway on Tuesday to honor the life of the Pope.
“It was nice to see how many people stopped by, of all religions, just to acknowledge his life,” McMahon said.
Natalia Maldonado can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.