Denver, site of city-changing World Youth Day-mourns Pope John Paul

Hundreds of faithful gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver overflowed onto Colfax Ave. last evening as they joined millions around the world in mourning the death of Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, during his homily at yesterday’s packed and tear-filled Divine Mercy Sunday Mass said that, “a man like John Paul II comes maybe once in a century.”

“God”, he continued, “put him into a century that had forgotten how to be human….But despite the suffering he saw, [John Paul] radiated hope.”

“For us”, the Archbishop said, “he was a father, a pastor, a man who loved people with a warmth and compassion…that many of us knew personally from his visit in 1993.”

Recently, Archbishop Chaput said that the Pope’s visit to Denver in 1993 for World Youth Day was “a Transfiguration for the Church in Northern Colorado - a moment when Jesus smiled on us in a special, joyful, vivid way and invited us into his mission to the world.”

The archbishop reflected on the significance of the Holy Father’s death falling on the eve of the feast of Divine Mercy—a feast, which the Pope had personally instituted and had a great devotion to.

“I don’t think God called him home on this day by accident”, the archbishop said. “He did it as a gift both to him and to us.”

25-year old Jacob Welp, was among those who had gathered to remember the Pope. He told CNA that he feels as though he has “lost a father in the spiritual life.”

“As I grew closer to Jesus”, he said, “I became more inspired by John Paul II.”

“I started to realize tonight that, with his death, he’ll have a whole new role in my meditation…of fatherly encouragement in prayer.”

The archbishop added: “We mourn, but Jesus assures us that ‘blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’…The words of Jesus--‘I am the resurrection and the life’--these are what should comfort us.”

As cardinals from around the world begin arriving in Rome to face the challenge of electing a new pope, throngs of faithful have been filling St. Peter’s Square to mourn the 84-year old pontiff who held the Chair of Peter for some 26 years.

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