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Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 11, 2005

Pope touched lives of local people

By Lynda Jensen

“I fell for him in a big way,” said Dorothy Borrell of Waverly.

This seems to sum up the local reaction to the death of Pope John Paul II, and how the man made an impact on local people.

When Borrell heard the news about John Paul’s passing, she could hardly sleep, watching news on the television news reports. “He’d been a pillar to me since I was young,” Borrell said.

Many others who were fond of the pope also reported being riveted by news reports, and saddened by his death.

“I sat, mesmerized, watching the television,” said Irene Weinbeck of Winsted. “He was a wonderful religious leader.”

“It meant an awful lot to me,” said Sylvia Artmann of Winsted, because she actually visited the Vatican in 2003, she said.

Artmann remembered each location on the news from her trip.

She toured the Vatican two years ago, and took part in a Mass that was simultaneously conducted by the pope and a priest who accompanied their group, Father Sam Perez of Guatemala.

Artmann accompanied about 30 other local people on her trip. “It’s more meaningful because we were there,” she said.

“He was probably one of the greatest men ever born,” commented John Ringold of Howard Lake.

Dorothy Novak of Howard Lake credited the pope with helping to raise her three children, after her husband died from surgery in 1980.

The pope’s message of abstinence, and how many problems it prevents, was powerful to Novak. “That made a big impact on me.”

“He was more than a political figure, he was at the heart and soul of what we are as humans,” said Father Paul Wolf of Holy Trinity of Winsted.

When Wolf heard of the pope’s death, he went to the church and tolled the bell 84 times to symbolize his years on earth.

“He never faltered from human dignity of life,” said Mary Pettit of St. Mary’s Church.

John Paul’s courage and determination in the face of communism was a highlight of his term as pope to many local people.

“He brought down the Iron Curtain,” Ringold said – or as Borrell puts it, “He got Russia straightened out.”

“He didn’t take a back seat to anybody,” commented Marvin Hirsch of Winsted. “He did everything right in his lifetime.”

John Paul possessed a charisma and demeanor that reached across religious boundaries and touched the hearts of young people everywhere, Ringold said.

“He bonded with youth. He went out to them,” Ringold said.

Novak agreed. “He helped me to connect with my young kids,” she said. “In a crazy, mixed up world, it’s hard to be a parent,” she added.

Borrell said that the pope gave her hope for the future, because young people are the future – something that John Paul knew all along.

“He knew the value of life, especially to youth,” Novak said.

Novak described John Paul as a “bridge builder – more than any other pope,” she said.

“He reached every religion,” Novak said.

Wolf pointed out that world leaders from every country attended services for John Paul, with the exception of four in the entire world.

Father Timothy Cloutier noted that the Rev. Billy Graham hailed John Paul as “the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world during the last 100 years,” and whom President George W. Bush called “a faithful servant of God.”

“He did a lot to bring different religions together,” Weinbeck observed.

Artmann agreed. “We are all one,” she said. “He reached all people.”

Ecumenical service Thursday in Waverly

A service in honor of Pope John Paul II will be hosted by St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Waverly 6 p.m. Thursday, April 14.

It is open to Christians of all faiths, with the purpose of “sharing with the world the faith of a man, and the legacy of a pope,” said Father Timothy Cloutier of St. Mary’s.

A purpose of John Paul’s, and goal of all Christians everywhere, is “to build bridges, not walls; to foster respectful exchange, not engage in diatribe,” Cloutier said. “All of this is in view both to extending the kingdom of God among those who do not yet know the Lord Jesus, and to strengthen among believers our common witness to that kingdom.”

Cloutier personally invited other churches to the service, and also received condolences from others, said Mary Pettit, church secretary. For example, Pastor Myra Carroll-Pezzella of the First Presbyterian Church in Howard Lake called Cloutier to express her condolences. “That meant a lot to him,” Pettit said.

The Diocese of New Ulm, which includes Holy Trinity Church, also conducted a Catholic memorial service in Bird Island Thursday.

Both Catholic churches in Waverly and Winsted were draped in black bunting, to signify that the pope has died. When a new pope is elected, the black will be replaced with white and yellow bunting; the colors of the papacy.

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