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Tribute Page to Pope John Paul II
















Sto lat! Sto lat! they chanted. May you live a hundred years!

It's easier to sing than to do, he said...

They call us the John Paul II generation. Teenagers and twenty-somethings, we are too young to have known or remembered any man but this man in the chair of Peter. And what a man. Our elders are at a loss to understand the incredible appeal that John Paul II held for us. That an aged, celibate old man in Rome should command such respect and devotion among the inheritors of the sexual revolution, among other things, is baffling and indeed disturbing to those who expected our generation to follow in their own footsteps. They cite his charismatic presence, his vibrant personality, his energetic spirit. But to conclude that we loved him for his character and merely tolerated or smiled indulgently at his quaint orthodoxy would be a mistake. We loved him for his orthodoxy, for his passionate witness to the Gospel. We loved him because he spoke to us, and his words rang true in our hearts. Dear young people! he said. Be not afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ! In a world where love and sexuality and human dignity were being cheapened all around us, he told us that these things were greater than we imagined. He told us not to fear the culture of death or our own weakness, but to take courage in the victory of Christ over the world: This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel! It is the time to preach it from the rooftops!

The world did not understand this man because he was a contradiction to them. They praise him for his humanitarianism, his instrumental role in the downfall of Communism, his steadfast opposition to war and capital punishment. At the same time, he is criticized for his unflinching fidelity to tradition, for refusing to capitulate to abortion, contraception, or euthanasia. The world forgets that Christ was also a contradiction. They are fond of the Sermon on the Mount, but conveniently pass over the Crucifixion. In fact, it is not John Paul II or Christ or the Catholic Church which is contradictory, but the world. It is the world which has strayed from the truth and no longer recognizes it for what it is. Especially in America, we live in a world of cafeteria Catholicism, a world that sees nothing absurd in picking and choosing those elements of the truth that please us and ignoring the rest. Is it any wonder that the Church contradicts their own contradictions? 
John Paul II knew what is was to surrender oneself to the Gospel. His life was not his own; or rather, he found the truth that one must give up his life in order to find it. His motto, totus tuus, bespoke his total dedication to Jesus through Mary, a dedication that was evident throughout his life, but never more than in the final years when physical infirmity began to take its toll. He accepted the cross of the papacy with joy in spite of the immense suffering he bore as a result, and was under no illusions that his life was anything but a Via Crucis in union with the suffering Christ. Nor, at the end, did he cling vainly to life when the Lord called His faithful servant home. Those around him were choked up with emotion when, on Friday morning, he asked that the biblical narrative of the Passion be read to him, and as the body of Christ was being taken down for burial, he made the sign of the Cross. Do not weep, he said. Let us pray together with joy.

Ora pro nobis.

Joseph McDonough



Dear fellow penitents, friends, inquirers, and associates of the Confraternity of Penitents,

Depending on where you live in the world, our beloved Pope John Paul II passed from this world to the next either on Divine Mercy Sunday or on its eve which is the first Saturday of the month. How appropriate that he who established this feast and who canonized St. Faustina should go to meet Mercy Himself at this time.

Let us, as penitents loyal to the Church, not neglect to pray for the Holy Father's soul, while at the same time hoping that he is already in the Divine Embrace forever. Let us pray for the College of Cardinals as well, that they will be receptive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in selecting Pope John Paul II's successor. May the Lord give the Church just the man whom we all need at this critical time of history.

May the Divine Mercy make His mercy felt to all of us and all of our loved ones at this holy time as we continue to pray for one another.

The Council of the Confraternity of Penitents:

Mary McGarry, Minister (President)
Michael Clark, Associate Minister (Vice President)
Rita Farnsworth, Treasurer
Marie Clark, Messenger (Secretary)
Mary Louise (Lou) Samuels, Regional Communications Coordinator
Madeline Pecora Nugent, Formation Director
Michael McGarry, Council Member at Large
James F. Nugent, Council Member at Large



It is hard to believe the Holy Father has passed from this world to the Beatific vision. My heart is heavy at the loss of one who contributed so much to the world in spiritual guidance, justice & mercy. 

It is at this moment that I realize how much John Paul II has had a personal impact on my life. My earliest memory of him is the assassination attempt made on his life back in 1981. I was only 9 years old at the time, but I remember turning the television on when i came home from school that day, expecting to watch the usual afternoon cartoons. My family was not Catholic, and not much significance was given to the event at the time. I, however, recall the anguish and the turmoil the truly faithful felt. Candle light vigils and others praying their rosaries, wiping the occasional tear from their eyes. 

Over the years I watched this amazing man shepherd HIS flock with rapt attention and care. During the eighties, when I personally was desperately trying to find a moral compass in my life due to the life circumstances I was in, I remember his Holiness taking a firm stand against volatile issues such as abortion, communism and for advocating basic human rights for everyone regardless of race, country or creed. Over the years I have to admit I have been critical of some of the "policies" the Pope had mandated, thinking them "out dated," "impractical" and "too conservative." 

In the recent past, I have found myself searching for my life's meaning, as we all do, and his Holiness John Paul II has been a quiet but firm influence in my life. He answered tough questions for me and helped me have compassion not just for those who have earned it (as some in the world would have us believe) but to have compassion for everyone for we all are children of God. I shall always remember this remarkable man for not just being an astounding world leader but for being the shepherd that helped this lost sheep find his way to the bosom of Jesus. 

--Bryce St. James (Bryce St. James is the pen name of a postulant in the Confraternity of Penitents)


THE LION HAS DIED....Alleuias resound in Heaven! --Peter Wilson (friend of the CFP)

April 8, 2005 (the Pope's funeral)

I got up at 4am this morning to watch the most moving three hours of my life....I lost it completely when the Sistine Choir intoned the In Paradisio at the end of the Commitment Prayer...and I just couldn't help myself:

"Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels take thee to thy rest..." (Hamlet, Act V, final scene) -- Peter Wilson


Our papa is gone. Where is his smile? His outstretched hand? We cannot see him. He was such an inspiration to us all. In his life he challenged us to know and to live the gospel. He made us go beyond our comfort to our mission. He scraped off the dust that had clouded the great Vatican Council. The obscurers are in full retreat (we know who they are). He made us rejoice at being Catholic. He brought us into direct contact with God. I cannot say that because of him I become Catholic, but I can say that by his ministry I have remained so. Where is he now? We feel alone. We cannot see him. But alas, with a twinkle in his eye our papa would have said, and continues to say (though we cannot hear him), "be not afraid," Christ remains. Christ always remains. He remains in the Eucharist. "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life in him".... let us live our lives even better because of our papa. I know I have made that vow. Even as we are sad today, we rejoice in hope. May our Lady, who cradled our Lord in her arms, bring our papa to his final home and may we all be together someday, someday soon.  -- Jim Lattimer (friend of the CFP)


On this Feast of Divine Mercy, the Church throughout the world is in intense prayer. We give thanks for the years that Our Lord has allowed us to have such a great man to lead His Church during these turbulent years. All people, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike, know and love the Holy Father. He has truly touched people regardless of race or creed.

The Divine Mercy devotion has a beautiful history that involves Pope John Paul II. When he was Archbishop of Cracow, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla began the process of beatification of Sister Faustina Kowalska who was graced with the visions of Jesus Christ who called Faustina "Secretary of my mercy." Under the pontificate of the newly elected Pope, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "withdrew the censures and reservations advanced earlier by the Holy See in relation to the writings of Sister Faustina." Finally, during the Holy Year of the Great Jubilee 2000, Pope John Paul II proclaimed Faustina Kowalska a Saint of the Catholic Church and fulfilled the desire of Jesus by proclaiming the 2nd Sunday of Easter as the "Feast of Divine Mercy." 

The Divine Mercy message and devotion are critical for our time. In them, the Lord has given us the remedy to the world's evils. In a message to St. Faustina, Jesus said, "I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness. From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming." I have to ask, is this "Spark" Pope John Paul II? He has truly been a bright light in the moral decay and darkness that envelopes society today. The Holy Father has given a consistent message of respect for all human life, the importance of the family and the gift and grace of the Sacraments. What is in store for the future of our world and Church? We can find the answer in the message Jesus gave to Faustina. Like Poland, if we will "be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness." If all of God's people respond to the will of Christ and the message of mercy, the Lord will raise us up to greatness and give us a future full of hope and grace. All depends on us!

God bless Pope John Paul II!

God love you,
Father Finelli  (Visitor's Vision for Divine Mercy Sunday)


My remembrance of our dear Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, will be the love that he had for all humanity. He cared for everyone, even his enemies. He was so much like Christ, in this respect, that he was a walking Christ among us. I have seen a few Popes in my lifetime and I think they were all very remarkable. This Pope, however, will be remembered, for his endless energy, the most traveled Pope, a defender of life, a lover of the Eucharist, a true Marian Pope . He also taught us the value of redemptive suffering. He gave true meaning to life in his last days. He will be missed by the entire world. He was a real blessing to all and he loved the youth of the world. Our parish priest was able to speak to a Polish priest in Rome while our Holy Father lay dying and he said that the Pope's words were... and these have not been published- My flame is diminishing and I am dying. Be happy - I am happy. 

May the choir of angels come to greet you, Holy Father, may they take you to paradise.

Mary McGarry (Minister, that is president, of the CFP)
I've come to believe that the Lord calls us all to total surrender and that He will take away those things we hold most dear in order to foster that surrender. Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II was a man of action. I recall his ski trips and hikes when he became Pope and his countless hopping all over the world to visit his people. He was the most traveled Pope of all time. He was also a wonderful orator, an actor who knew how to hold an audience. As illness took over his life, he became weaker and less mobile and less forceful and graceful It seems to me that the Holy Father probably greatly appreciated his natural physical abilities which he used well. But God said to him, in illness if no other way, "You must give up your strength and become weak for me." And our Holy Father agreed because he loved the Lord more than he loved himself. This resignation to the loss of his stamina strikes me deeply because it shows a man who lived what he preached and who gave all to God without hesitation. May we take heart from his example.

Holy Father, we pray for you. Please pray for us.

Madeline Pecora Nugent (CFP Formation Director)


The Papal Passover last evening is inscribed with Divine Poetry. I find it deeply moving that our well-beloved Holy Father was called home on the Eve of Mercy Sunday (as well as First Saturday & Easter Saturday). Most would find a better liturgical coincidence hard to find. Luckily, God's ways are not ours. 

Raymond Colombaro (Friend of the CFP)



The silver cord is gently teased, then cut.

A soul wings heaven-ward, smiling.

It is that of a lover of humankind,
A mystic of snow, stone and sweat.

Death is swallowed up in victory.

There is no astonishment here, 
Only the fulfillment of the ancient vow.

Human imagination can scarcely think other.

Karol has entered forever the tremendous 
And fascinating mystery he so cherished.

Raymond J. Colombaro (friend of the CFP)


As I watched the lifeless body of our Holy Father carried in procession through the vast sea of people in the piazza, I recall how many times I stood in that piazza, in Italy--homeland of my mother, and saw him full of life, starting in 1979, later with Mom and step dad just a few seats before the outdoor altar, thanks to the Passionist Motherhouse tickets given us. I remember sitting atop the arches surrounding the piazza with a C.P. Brother, and many other moments near this Pope--especially the Mass of the Precious Blood, July 1, 2000. And then, finally, in 2003, my walk up the steps to his seat to present my biography of St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin, C.P.-- a saint whose tomb John Paul visited at Gran Sasso and drew huge crowds of youth to the Mass in honor of the Passionist saint of the smile!  I placed my hand on his hand that day.  I remember just saying, "Thank you for your witness," and he slowly blessed me and strongly said, "God bless you". So simple. So powerful. It was a beautiful, sort of eternal moment, one of filial love for me, and gratitude. St. Gabriel seemed right there with me, although I can't explain how I sensed it, but I did. Now, I am praying to our Holy Father to prepare the way for a saintly successor. Pray with me. Blessings to each of you during this time of loss and new birth, of sadness and new hopes. John Schweska, C.P. laity



Advice the Pope Gave Cardinals in View of Conclave
To Listen to Lesson Left in Sistine Chapel 

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 5, 2005 ( John Paul II left advice for the cardinals who would meet to elect his successor: to understand the lesson left by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, where the conclave will take place. 

The Pope offered a poetic vision of what the conclave would be, which would be held "after my death," in his work "Roman Triptych," published in March 2003 and written between the summer and Christmas of 2002. 

Contemplating the fresco of the Last Judgment, the Holy Father wrote: "Those to whom the care of the legacy of the keys has been entrusted gather here, allowing themselves to be enfolded by the Sistine colors, by the vision left to us by Michelangelo. So it was in August, and then in October, of the memorable year of the two Conclaves, and so it will be again, when the need arises after my death." 

"Michelangelo's vision must then speak to them," reflected the Pope. 

"'Con-clave': a joint concern for the legacy of the keys of the Kingdom. They will find themselves between the Beginning and the End, between the Day of Creation and the Day of Judgment ...," he said. 

"It is necessary that during the Conclave, Michelangelo teach them," he stressed, concluding with one of the essential contents of this lesson: "Do not forget: 'Omnia nuda et aperta sunt ante oculos Eius': Everything is naked and open before His eyes." 

John Paul II concluded his poem with a prayer to God for the conclave: "You who are in all, show the way! He will teach you ..." 

Here is the Pope's poetic passage.



In the Sistine the artist painted the Judgment, 
The Judgment dominates the whole interior. 
Here, the invisible End becomes poignant visibility. 
This End is also the summit of transparency 
such is the path of all generations. 

"Non omnis moriar" (Not all of me will die). 
What is imperishable in me 
now stands face to face with Him Who Is! 
This is what fills the central wall of the Sistine profusion of color. 

Do you remember, Adam? At the beginning he asked you where are you? 
And you replied: I hid myself from You because I was naked. 
Who told you that you were naked? 
The woman whom you put here with me gave me the fruit ... 

All those who populate the central wall of the Sistine painting 
bear in themselves the heritage of that reply of yours! 
Of that question and that response! 
Such is the End of your path. 


It is here, at the feet of this marvelous Sistine profusion of color 
that the Cardinals gather 
a community responsible for the legacy of the keys of the Kingdom. 
They come right here. 
And once more Michelangelo wraps them in his vision. 
In Him we live and move and have our being. 

Who is He? 

Look, here the creating hand of the Almighty Ancient One, 
turned towards Adam ... 
In the beginning God created ... 
He, the all-seeing One ... 

The Sistine painting will then speak with the Word of the Lord: 
"Tu est Petrus" (you are Peter) as Simon, the son of Jonah, heard. 
To you I will give the keys of the Kingdom. 
Those to whom the care of the legacy of the keys has been entrusted 
gather here, allowing themselves to be enfolded by the Sistine colors, 
by the vision left to us by Michelangelo 
so it was in August, and then in October, 
of the memorable year of the two Conclaves, 
and so it will be again, when the need arises after my death. 
Michelangelo's vision must then speak to them. 
Conclave: a joint concern for the legacy of the keys of the Kingdom. 
They will find themselves between the Beginning and the End, 
between the Day of Creation and the Day of Judgment. 
It is given to man once to die and after that the judgment! 

A final transparency and light. 
The clarity of the events 
the clarity of consciences 
It is necessary that during the Conclave, Michelangelo teach them 
Do not forget: "Omnia nuda et aperta sunt ante oculos Eius." 
You who are in all, show the way! 
He will teach you ... 

[Copyright, Vatican Publishing House]


I have many thoughts on Pope John Paul. He died full of the Holy Spirit--- those kinds of deaths are wonderful to witness. The Holy Spirit can almost be seen entering the body and overwhelming it to the point that the body is simply inadequate to hold it and the person dies. I saw my sixth grade teacher die like that. I've never forgotten it. I literally saw the Holy Spirit take over her body. It was beautiful. I believe that Pope John Paul brushed by me shortly after he died. I felt him. I'm sure of it. I can always tell when that happens.  Patricia Healey

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