Northland School Says Goodbye to Pope through Prayer

By KBJR News 1

February 28, 2013 Updated Feb 28, 2013 at 8:45 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Fifteen minutes before the clock struck eight PM in the Vatican—one PM central time—students at St. John's Catholic School quietly filed into the sanctuary, and with a genuflect, took to their pews for prayer. At 12:50, a handful of middle–schoolers began leading their peers, teachers, and family members in a full five decats of the Rosary--considered by many Catholics to be one of the most powerful forms of prayer and reflection.

At one, the Catholic church was officially without a Holy Father.

"We started the Rosary with a Pope, and we ended it without one," said St. John's pastor, Father Richard Kunst.

The Pastor of St. John's, St. Joseph's and Gnesen says he recognizes the significance of this day for Catholics across the world.

"This is the first time this has happened in a long, long time. The last time a Pope willingly resigned was in 1294. To pray—to have the children pray—for the Pope these last minutes of his pontificate was most appropriate," said Kunst.

For Assistant Priest, Father Ben Hadrich, who was ordained as recently as June, it's the power of prayer that helps make this day more personal for the students.

"Actually yesterday, for the last time, I prayed for the Pope during my prayers as a priest, which is pretty touching—what else can we do but pray? Here, at a Catholic school, we can take time out of our day to pray for things," said Hadrich.

And, while today is considered to be an emotional day for many Catholics, both men say it's a day of new hope, and a chance for new life in the church.

"I'm hoping for somebody who's going to be very energetic. I would like to see a young man be Pope, and somebody who's going to really shake up the church in a very spiritual way," said Kunst.

"I would love to see an African Pope. The church there is booming; it's really incredible. But, of course, whoever it is, God's will be done," said Hadrich.

And when that happens, the students at St. John's will be ready to send more prayers his way.

As far as immediate change goes, Father Kunst says the most noticeable change for Northlanders will come at morning mass. It will be the first time Pope Benedict's name is left out of the daily sermon.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness