St. Louis remembers papal visit, mourns with faithful worldwide

.- Shortly following Pope John Paul II visit to St. Louis in 1999, then Archbishop Justin Rigali said that, “It is not too soon to say that the Pastoral Visit of Pope John Paul II to the Archdiocese of St. Louis has been a spiritual event of lasting significance for more people than can ever be counted.”

That lasting impact can still be felt today as St. Louis joins with the rest of the world in mourning a man who is already being hailed as ‘John Paul the Great.’

Archbishop Rigali had said that so many of those he had spoken to in St. Louis and beyond spoke “of a deepened faith in our Lord Jesus Christ on account of the Pope's visit.”

“So many”, he said, “have spoken of a renewed pride in being members of the Catholic Church! And so many have spoken of a heightened sense of solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as with all people of good will who have experienced the blessings which have been the fruit of the Pope's time in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.”

Archbishop Raymond Burke, who currently shepherds the St. Louis Archdiocese said Saturday that, “Through his numerous pastoral visits, he has brought truth and love of Christ the Good Shepherd to every corner of the earth.”

“The Archdiocese of Saint Louis”, he added, “witnessed directly his universal pastoral charity during his visit to the Archdiocese on January 26th and 27th of 1999.”

“The Holy Father”, Archbishop Burke said, “has been for me a constant source of inspiration, encouragement and strength in carrying out the challenging mission of Bishop and Archbishop. I shall always be profoundly grateful to him. His life and ministry will continue to inspire, encourage and strengthen me.”

In his Wednesday homily at the city’s TWA Dome--usually the home to the St. Louis Rams football team, that day, home to scores of faithful—John Paul said that, “St. Louis has been the Gateway to the West, but it has also been the gateway of great Christian witness and evangelical service.”

Noting the “immense heritage of holiness and service” in the area, the Holy Father told St. Louis that, “Out of that heritage you must draw inspiration and strength for the new evangelization so urgently needed at the approach of the Third Christian Millennium.”

“In the holiness and service of St. Louis’s own Saint Philippine Duchesne,” the pope challenged, “and of countless faithful priests, religious and laity since the Church’s earliest days in this area, Catholic life has appeared in all its rich and varied splendor. Nothing less is asked of you today.”

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