On Tuesday, Oct. 22 the McNicholas High School Community will gather at Guardian Angels Church to celebrate the legacy of the late Pope John Paul II with an all-school Mass. The former pope, who died in 2005, has been cleared for sainthood by Pope Francis, who followed the initiative of Benedict XVI in surpassing the normal five-year waiting period in order to canonize his predecessor.
“No one can question his [John Paul II’s] legacy and impact on the world,” McNicholas Director of Campus Ministry Jeff Hutchinson-Smyth said. “Not every pope has the sort of impact that he did. In some ways, his was the first truly global papacy.”
Tuesday’s celebration of the Mass will pay homage to the papal ministry of Pope John Paul II through a series of prayers and reflections from members of the McNicholas community. The Mass’s homily, which will be said by McNicholas alumnus Fr. Jan Schmidt of St. Margret of York Parish, will focus on a collection of Vatican-approved prayers that were designated to memorialize the pontiff’s life and works.
“When Blessed John Paul was elected as pope, he said to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square: ‘be not afraid.’ And he made clear that this message was at the center of his ministry,” Hutchinson-Smyth said. “This is something we can see in any given Gospel, and certainly something we see in Jesus’ central message.”
Both John Paul II and John XXIII will be officially canonized as saints on April 27, 2014. Requirements for canonization, as set by the Catholic Church, declare that a person must have lived a holy life and performed two miracles during his or her lifetime in order to become a saint. John Paul II is said to have miraculously cured a Costa Rican woman of an aneurysm and a French nun of Parkinson’s disease, both of which occurred after his death.
Pope John Paul II is considered by many to be one of the most prominent leaders of the 20th century. During his lifetime, he was accredited with improving Catholic relations with Islam, Judaism, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. Within the tense environment of the Cold War, he served as a crucial instrument in putting an end to Communism in Europe and is widely recognized as having been one of the most traveled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his time as pope.
“I think it’s fitting that in this time we are being reminded of the true capacity of the Church’s leadership in the world,” Hutchinson-Smyth said. “It’s a new opportunity to learn from John Paul II’s legacy, impact, and witness, in an era that is so different in many aspects, but unchanging in others.”