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Notre Dame remembers Pope John Paul II

Maddie Hanna | Monday, April 4, 2005

When Pope John Paul II passed away Saturday afternoon, the Basilica bells tolled for an hour, alerting the campus of his death and immediately drawing mourners to the Grotto.Since the news hit Notre Dame this weekend, students, administrators, faculty, staff and members of the South Bend community have lamented the pope’s death and celebrated his life in a variety of ways.Approximately 400 people attended a rosary service Saturday night at the Grotto led by Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman, University President-elect Father John Jenkins, Basilica Rector Father Peter Rocca, Director of Campus Ministry Father Richard Warner, student body president Dave Baron and vice president Lizzi Shappell.Those in attendance shielded their Grotto candles from the wind while singing “Ave Maria,” swaying to the Alma Mater and praying in a way that Warner said was one of the pope’s favorites.”Simple, yet profound, [the rosary] still remains on the dawn of the new millennium,” Warner told the crowd. “It is a prayer of great significance.”When the prayers ended, those holding candles flooded forward to place them in the Grotto, many lingering long after to say silent prayers.Following the service, Warner said it was meant to “grieve his [the pope’s] passing but celebrate his life.””We have had the opportunity to see him give real meaning to the universality of our faith,” Warner said.He placed the prayer service in the context of Notre Dame’s university setting.”I think that this service and these services all around the world will show us all again so many people loved John Paul II, but that he had a special love for young people,” Warner said.Touching on what he considered remarkable aspects of the pope’s life, Warner said John Paul II grew up in poverty, studied theology underground during the Nazi occupation and was a “great sportsman.””Since he was such a holy man, it’s clear he is with God right now,” he said.Students thought the prayer service was an appropriate way to pay their respects to the pope, whose passing was unfortunate but not unexpected, they said.”I wish he was still here, but heaven’s a better place because of him,” freshman James Carlson said.”I thought that [the service] was a nice way to commemorate his death,” sophomore Rebecca Moss said. “I was glad they had it planned before.”Carlson said he wished more people had attended the service, especially considering Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.”I expected [the crowd] to be out to the road,” Carlson said. “You don’t see a pope die every day, or every year, for that matter.”A memorial Mass will be celebrated today at 5:15 p.m. in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The Mass will be preceded by a 4:30 rosary service.