Many in the MSU community, when they awoke the morning of April 2, did not realize the impact that day would have on the world. And as millions mourned the Pope’s passing by watching or attending his funeral on April 8, saying special prayers or recalling his legacy, many still do not realize the influence Pope John Paul II had in his lifetime.
In his 26-year reign as the leader of 1 billion Catholics, John Paul II aided in the fall of communism, challenged capitalism, spoke out as a moral voice for the poor and stood as a symbol for the ideals of Catholicism.
But despite his religious stature, he has been described by some as having “rockstar appeal.” His ability to bring people together in order to discuss their problems, as well as to celebrate what they have in common, was a feature that was highly praised.
[david] Pre-med freshman David Leitner recalled a trip to the pontiff’s World Youth Days in 2002. “The pope was very gentle and loving,” Leitner said.
“He’s like a child,” Leitner continued. “He would goof around and was a joking guy. He liked to have fun, take risks for the good of the younger generation and was radical.”
Leitner, with about 4,000 other youth, traveled to Toronto to hear the pope’s message. The theme that year was, “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.”
“There were over 25 countries represented,” Leitner said. “It was like a concert. People stayed in schools, churches and with volunteer families.”
Fr. Mark Inglot, pastor at St. John Student Parish on M.A.C. Avenue, met the pontiff in 1998 while on sabbatical in Rome. He had very fond memories of John Paul II. “He was a very funny man,” Inglot said. “He was interested in where I was from and what people in our parish are like.”
St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing, as well as other locations throughout the area, held a special tribute service for the late pontiff. A few funeral homes opened their doors for anyone who wished to watch the funeral service, which was held at 4 a.m., EST.
Currently, approximately 30 MSU students are studying abroad at John Cabot University in Rome. Classes there were canceled so students could attend the pontiff’s funeral. Students have yet to comment on the current circumstances there.
“I was surprised and inspired by how many were expected to view the pope’s body,” Fr. Inglot said. “No one realized how significant he was.”
[mark] “It felt kind of contradictory to grieve,” Leitner said. “I believe that he’s physically gone but emotionally and spiritually here.”
Certainly, Pope John Paul II will be missed, but his legacy will always be remembered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *