.- For the second night in less than a week, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Denver overflowed with people wishing to say farewell to Pope John Paul II, a man who shepherded the Catholic Church for 26 years before his death on Saturday. A cavalcade of religious and civic leaders accompanied some 100 priests and deacons from around Colorado in a testament to the far-reaching influence of the Holy Father.
Over 1,200 attended the standing room only Mass along side leaders from Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, and other Christian faiths.
Archbishop Charles Chaput, in honor of the solemn occasion, donned vestments worn by Pope John Paul during his 1993 Denver visit for the World Youth Day celebration. A chalice used by the pope during his Mass at Immaculate Conception was also used at the memorial.
In his homily, the Archbishop noted that John Paul II taught us that, “none of us are completely autonomous human beings. We must live first for the Lord, and then for others.”
He also noted the pope’s humility, especially near the end of his life: An actor, a playwright “who used to command a crowd…He had control of every situation, but was now an old man who could hardly speak.”
Archbishop Chaput said that the pope epitomized the famous quote of St. Irenaeus: ‘The glory of God is man fully alive.’ “John Paul”, he said, “was a man fully alive…he was luminous because of his relationship with God.”
At the end of Mass, echoing an Italian tradition, a prolonged applause honoring the life of a man that many are calling ‘John Paul the Great’, erupted.
Members of Denver’s St. Joseph Polish Parish, donning traditional Polish garb, waved large Polish flags during the tear-filled stream of applause.
Brian Larkin, a 25-year old seminarian from Denver told CNA that, the example of the pope’s life showed him that “anything is possible if you unite yourself with Christ.”
Noting the broad representation from various religions and denominations, Larkin said that the evening showed him “what a father [John Paul] was to the whole world—not just to the Catholic Church, but to the whole human family.”
Added Dave Nix, another from the large group of Denver seminarians: “He’s a hero.”