.- Site of the 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II, the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona is joining millions worldwide in mourning the death of the Holy Father. “While I am tearful at the news of his death”, said Bishop Thomas Olmsted last weekend, “I am deeply grateful for the way he fulfilled his mission to the end. Many have already referred to him as John Paul the Great. Has he not earned the title?”
Bishop Olmsted, who worked for nine years in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, said that what he will remember most about the Holy Father is “his bond of love with the living Jesus Christ. All he did and said, all the hardships he endured, were done for the love of Christ.”
In a litany of praises for John Paul, the bishop also expressed his admiration for the pope’s “remarkable personalism…commitment to the truth…amazing rapport with young people” and his “engagement of cultures.”
“Above all,” he said, “I am grateful that God gave him to us, to guide the Church through the many challenges of the late 20th century and across the threshold of the Third Millennium. He has been true to his title “Holy Father” and to his motto, “Totus Tuus.”
The latter was the pope’s personal motto, meaning ‘Mary, I am all yours.”
Yesterday, on the eve of the pope’s funeral in Rome, Bishop Olmsted celebrated a Mass for the Dead honoring John Paul at Saints Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix.
Likewise, the Diocese had memorabilia from John Paul’s visit to Phoenix on display in the Diocesan Pastoral Center as another way for faithful to remember the pope.
In his homily at yesterday’s Mass, Bishop Olmsted recalled Jesus’ words from John’s Gospel to bring perspective to the loss of the Church’s shepherd for 26-years.
It read: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”