|Cardinal Justin Rigali, the former Archbishop of Philadelphia, celebrated a school-wide Mass at Pope John Paul II High School on Thursday, Oct. 22, to celebrate the feast day of the school’s namesake, St. John Paul II. Above, the cardinal leads a prayer during the Mass. Father Terry McGowan, the chaplain and a theology teacher at Pope John Paul II High School, stands behind Cardinal Rigali. Photos by Andy Telli
St. John Paul II made 104 overseas trips to 129 countries during his long pontificate, and in every country he visited he tried to meet with young people to give them a message of hope, said Cardinal Justin Rigali, who accompanied the pope on many of those trips.
“He had a very special message. … It was a message of hope and encouragement,” said Cardinal Rigali, who celebrated Mass on the feast day of St. John Paul at Pope John Paul II High School. “He loved you and he wanted to encourage you. And he wanted you to go beyond yourselves and he wanted you to reach Jesus Christ.”
Cardinal Rigali, the retired Archbishop of Philadelphia, now lives in Knoxville. He came to JPII to participate in the school’s Pope Week activities held in honor of its patron. Cardinali Rigali was a priest working in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps when St. John Paul was elected pope. He later traveled with the pope often serving has his English language translator. In 1994, the pope appointed Cardinal Rigali as the Archbishop of St. Louis, and in 1999 the cardinal hosted the pope on a visit to St. Louis.
St. John Paul’s feast day is Oct. 22, the anniversary of the day he was installed as pope, noted Cardinal Rigali during the Mass at JPII High School.
“What a privilege you have here … to possess this wonderful legacy and keep it alive … in your love and your gift of self and in your service to each other and the whole world,” Cardinal Rigali told the students during his homily. “John Paul II is asking you to be strong in hope and persevering in love.”
The key to achieving that, he added, is prayer.
On a trip to Ireland, St. John Paul told the young people there how important they were, Cardinal Rigali said. “Not only did he love them but he brought them the love of Jesus Christ,” he added. “He brought them the challenge of the love of Jesus Christ.”
The pope told young people how much they could do, Cardinal Rigali said.
St. John Paul encouraged young people to take up weapons to engage the world, the weapons St. Paul talks about in his letter to the Ephesians: truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith and the word of God, Cardinal Rigali said.
When young people use these weapons, the pope told them, they are invincible, Cardinal Rigali said.
|Cardinal Rigali distributes the Eucharist to senior Natalie Wieber during the Mass on the feast day of St. John Paul II. The cardinal, who is now retired and living in East Tennessee, worked closely with St. John Paul II in Rome and later hosted the pope on a visit to St. Louis when he was archbishop there.
During a visit to New Orleans, Cardinal Rigali recalled, St. John Paul urged young people to let no one deceive them “about your mission, about the truth, about where you are going. Let no one deceive you about the truth of your lives.”
The opposite of deception, the pope said, is Jesus Christ. “He shares our humanity and he comes into the world to help us understand ourselves, to help us discover ourselves,” Cardinal Rigali said, repeating the pope’s message.
“John Paul II’s voice still echoes throughout the world,” Cardinal Rigali said.