TOP STORY>> Catholics celebrate pope’s life
By RICK KRON and SARA GREENE
Leader staff writers
Jacksonville Catholics gathered for Mass Tuesday night to celebrate the life and mourn the death of the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church on McArthur Drive honored the pope throughout weekend masses and during a Monday night rosary service.
Masses, rosary and funeral vigils are planned for the rest of the week at area Catholic churches such as St. Jude’s and Immaculate Conception.
The pope’s funeral Mass and burial will take place Friday in St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Jude will have a Mass at 8 a.m. Friday, and there will be a memorial Mass at St. Andrews Cathedral in Little Rock at noon.
Immaculate Conception in North Little Rock will hold a funeral vigil on Thursday night and a memorial Mass on Friday.
John Paul II’s death on Saturday has caused both contemplative pause and a flurry of activity within the Roman Catholic world.
“We treat the Holy Father’s death as we would the death of a member of our own parish,” said Father Les Farley of St. Jude’s.
Farley has been a priest for 11 years and this is the first time he has dealt with a pontiff’s death. For many young Catholics Pope John Paul has been the only pontiff they’ve ever known.
“We don’t want to look too far in the future in regards to who the next pope will be. We want to pay proper respect to the Holy Father,” the priest said.
Jeanne Tucker of Sherwood said Pope John Paul was “one of the most charismatic and outspoken” popes in history.
“He opened up the Catholic Church and the world. You could just look at him and tell he was a good person. He will be greatly missed,” she said.
Even though Tucker has the highest respect for the pope and his accomplishments, she still feels he did let pass the chance to make some important reforms in the church.
“Our lack of priests has been a major issue. Too many good people are leaving the calling of the church to marry and have families. I would have liked to see the pope allow priests to marry,” Tucker said.
For Jacksonville’s Michael Goodman, John Paul was the only pope he’s known.
“I was born the same year that he was selected. He was a great pope. I hope that the next one will have similar views and be equally outspoken,” Goodman said.
Catholics like Goodman aren’t the only ones talking about the new pope. In Ireland, Paddy Power, a popular online betting service, is placing odds and taking bets on who the next pope will be.
According to Paddy’s, an Italian and a Nigerian cardinal are neck-and-neck to be selected as the next pope.
John Paul followed by just John or just Paul are the top bets for the new pope’s papal name.