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ND mourning will extend beyond campus

Megan O'Neil | Tuesday, April 5, 2005

With white Easter lilies still adorning the altar, the Notre Dame community joined the rest of the world in mourning the death of Pope John Paul II Monday afternoon in a commemoratory Mass at the Basilica. The church pews were filled to capacity with students, staff, faculty and community members, many of whom clutched rosaries in prayer. Roughly 40 Holy Cross priests joined outgoing University President Father Edward Malloy as he celebrated the Mass and honored the late pope.In his homily, Malloy described John Paul II as a renaissance man, saying he was an athlete, an actor, a playwright, a poet, a scholar, a teacher and a pastor. “He was a son of Poland by birth and deeply rooted in that Catholic culture,” Malloy said. “And then one day the church universal called him for that form of special service called the pope.”Malloy recalled his personal meetings with the pope and their effect on him. “I was invited twice to co-celebrate Mass with him in the papal chapel in Rome,” Malloy said.Both times, Malloy said, the pope was already on his knees deep in prayer when he entered the room. “There was a manifest sense of holiness that exuded in that place,” Malloy said. After celebrating Mass, John Paul II would greet visitor after visitor, Malloy said, something that made him greatly loved by the faithful. “He loved Catholic higher education and he pushed all of us involved in it to be clear about our sense of mission … and to transform society,” Malloy said. Malloy also described John Paul II as a model of servitude and a great evangelizer whose extensive travels ignited the faith of millions across the globe. “He took seriously the apostolic obligation to preach the good news throughout the world,” Malloy said. “He knew the value of the media in enhancing his presence.”Malloy said the pope did not limit himself exclusively to Catholics. Instead, he strove to heal the divisions which split the Christian community.John Paul II also reached out in an unprecedented manner to non-Christian faiths. “He was the first pope … to spend time in a synagogue and a mosque,” Malloy said. “He knew we have so much in common, that we worship the same God.”Malloy said the pope showed great courage in speaking out against evil in the world, particularly the Jewish holocaust and Eastern European communism. John Paul II worked tirelessly to create a world in which life is honored and respected, Malloy said.”He was an advocate for the poor and defenseless and exercised the pontific voice in the face of government and leadership,” Malloy said. Malloy went on to say John Paul II was very conscious of suffering in the world and struggled with it himself. Malloy noted even after being shot, the pope traveled to his intended-assassin’s jail cell and forgave him. In recent years, Malloy said, John Paul II faced a series of serious health problems that made it increasingly difficult to appear and speak in public. “As he grew older he had to deal with growing infirmity … He struggled as someone who was proud of his capacity in front of an audience,” Malloy said. Malloy spoke encouraging words about the Church’s future and the selection of a new Holy Father. “We are confident that with the gift of the Holy Spirit those entrusted with choosing his successor will do the right thing,” Malloy said.After Mass, dozens of attendees filed past a depiction of Pope John Paul II and signed a book honoring the dead. First year seminarian student and 2004 Notre Dame graduate Tom Hofmann attended Monday’s Mass and said he admired the pope’s spiritual guidance. “I felt a strong tie with the Holy Father,” Hofmann said. “I felt that he led us well and that his issues on life resonated with me.”Students Ali Donovan and Jamie Grebowski said honoring the pope in the Basilica was especially meaningful. “It is a really important event within the Catholic church. This is the only pope I can ever remember,” Donovan said. Stephenie Tsui called Malloy’s homily touching and said although she never had the opportunity to travel to Rome to see John Paul II, she was impressed with his willingness to open up the Church to interfaith dialogue. “[Visiting other places of worship] is really good because a lot of people are afraid to [learn about] other people’s religions,” Tsui said.