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Mass celebrates pope

On the same day hundreds of thousands of people descended on the Vatican to see the funeral of the Pope John Paul II, Catholics in Oak Harbor remembered the pontiff during a memorial Mass Friday morning at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Oak Harbor.

The Mass took place hours after the funeral at the Vatican.

Parishioners attending Mass remembered the times they saw the pontiff and the high points of the pope’s 26-year reign. Some gathered before Mass to pray the Rosary.

Some attending Mass couldn’t describe how they felt about the pontiff.

“I don’t have the words to say,” Rosa Maria Frank said after Mass. She said she hopes that the pope’s accomplishments will lead more people to join the church.

Bernadette Thiel, a parishioner who has seen the pope five times in her life, remembered the compassion the Pope John Paul II had.

“He’s like our father on earth,” Thiel said.

Fellow parishioner Leo Doyle added, “Look at what he did. He made the world a better place for all mankind to live.”

Near the end of Mass, Jim Valdez, president of the church’s parish council, highlighted a brief history of the pope.

“He crusaded against communism, unbridled capitalism and brutal oppression,” Valdez said.

Born Karol Jozef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II was first ordained a priest in 1946. He eventually became archbishop of Krakow in 1964 and became Pope in 1978.

Father Ronald Belisle, pastor of St. Augustine Catholic Church, celebrated the memorial Mass. He said the pope’s actions should help bring people closer to Jesus.

“The pope doesn’t act on his own. He acts in compliance to and obedience to Christ,” Belisle said. “We expect a leader to truly lead and bring us to Christ.”

In addition to the memorial Mass, a memorial wall is up at Burley Funeral Chapel where visitors can place mementos and sign a memorial book that will be sent to the Vatican.

It will give admirers another chance to pay respects to Pope John Paul II and express similar sentiments Valdez said during Mass.

“God bless you holy father and we will miss you,” Valdez said.

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