John Paul II Remembered for His Work, Compassion

Daily Staff Writer
Iowa State Daily

Sad, yet relieved.

This describes the combination of emotions that several area Catholics said they were experiencing in response to the death of Pope John Paul II.

“There’s a feeling of sadness, obviously, because he was a great man and a great example to all people,” said Danny Dickinson, senior in biochemistry. “He’s been very ill recently and in a lot of pain, and I’m sure he’s considerably happier where he is now.”

The Pope’s death Saturday at the age of 84 ended his 26-year period of service as the Catholic Church’s top religious leader. His last several years had been plagued with many health problems, and he was unable to recover from the crop of infections and illnesses that deteriorated his health severely over the past few months.

Born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in Poland in 1920, Pope John Paul II was known for his concern for human rights, his extensive traveling and his conservative stance on church policies. He was beloved by many Catholics for his ability to connect with those around him and for his compassionate nature.

“I think that one of the best things about John Paul [II] was his dedication to relating to the everyday person and the everyday Catholic,” Dickinson said.

Amber Herman, junior in public service and administration in agriculture, said she is inspired to follow his example in her life, evidence of the strong sense of leadership that the Pope conveyed to his constituents.

“I was … deeply moved by the Pope’s heart for reconciliation and his passion for the life and human dignity,” Herman said.

Donaghy, campus minister at St. Thomas Aquinas. “The church is a worldwide community, and the pope is the symbol for our community.”

Donaghy said it was a powerful testament to the life of John Paul II and to the Catholic Church that all over the world people are coming together in prayer for the same reason.

“We are a family coming together to mourn the loss of an important person,” he said.

Hemann, who said he has met the pope twice, said John Paul II would be remembered for the work he performed to connect people together.

“Perhaps one thing that he did well, probably more so than anyone else in modern history, he helped people realize the human family. That we are, in fact, all part of one family,” he said.

John Paul II was very involved with the interfaith relationship between Christianity and other religions, Hemann said.

“I think John Paul made a tremendous mark in the world through that,” he said.

Hemann said he expects to hear from people who are saddened by the pope’s death more so than the last time, because this pope reigned for such a long period. Many people had the opportunity to meet him or to be touched by his work, he said.

A memorial Mass is planned for the day of the pope’s funeral, and there may be one or two more prayer services in the next week to help with the grieving process, he said.

The pope’s death is a chance for Catholics to learn more about their faith, May said.

“The next step is to honor his life and then to keep going on with what he has set in front of us to do,” May said.

“He’s the only pope I’ve ever known. I think he has done a lot of great things.”