White flowers and a lit candle surround a framed photograph of Pope John Paul II near the entrance of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic church Saturday during a vigil on the day of his death.
The Rev. Everett Hemann, pastor at St. Thomas, 2210 Lincoln Way, said the church will hold an ecumenical service at 4:30 p.m. Sunday to celebrate the life and ministry of Pope John Paul II.
Hemann said the entire Ames community is welcome to attend the service and that other congregations in Ames have already called and expressed interest in joining the service.
The prayer service will also be symbolic of the Easter season, said Marty Doerning, music and liturgy coordinator for St. Thomas.
“We rejoice that God has saved us,” she said. “That [the pope] and we someday will have eternal life.”
Evelyn Beauchene, Nevada, said she remembers Pope Pius when she was growing up and watching for the white smoke in the Vatican that signified that a new pope had been selected.
“This one that we just lost was one of the best,” said Beauchene, who has attended St. Thomas services for four years.
Doerning said the pope was a strong promoter of Divine Mercy Sunday, a day that celebrates the mercy and forgiveness promised by Jesus Christ. She said she thought it was interesting that this Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday.
“While we are sad, we celebrate that his eternal life has come,” Doerning said.
Doerning said the St. Thomas community will continue to pray for guidance as the cardinals convene to select the next pope in the coming days.