Locals mourn John Paul II, recall him as strong leader | VailDaily.com

Locals mourn John Paul II, recall him as strong leader

Veronica Whitney
Preston Utley/Vail DailyMembers of the Hispanic community gather at St. Clare of Assisi Sunday night in Edwards for Mass and to pay tribute to the Pope.

EAGLE COUNTY – With tears rolling down his face, Jose Deanda remembered Pope John Paul II, who died Saturday in his Vatican apartment at age 84.”I was 15 when he came to Mexico for the first time,” said Deanda, 38, a Mexican national who lives in Edwards. “You could feel an inexplicable joy that paralyzed the whole city with his visit. Everybody wanted to be close to him.”The pope’s visit changed his life, said Deanda, who after that entered the seminary, where he studied for two years to become a priest. He later stopped his studies.”I saw him and it was a magnificent experience,” Deanda said Sunday. “It was his charisma, the peace he projected to other people.”Randy Goodwin was among dozens of people who attended Sunday morning Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Eagle to pray for the pope. “The pope meant to me an extremely strong and powerful religious figure,” said Goodwin, 44, of Eagle. “He did a great job in trying to tie many communities together. His highest achievement in my mind was trying to achieve world peace.”The peregrine pope

Thirteen-year-old Tara Dalbow said the pope’s death made her sad.”I couldn’t believe it, especially now when we really need him with the war in Iraq going on and all the changes in our country,” said Tara, who lives in Eagle.Though the pope wasn’t the leader of her church, Michelle Hiemstra, 29, a Christian Reformer from Avon, said she respected John Paul II.”He was a good role model encouraging people to live the way they should live,” Hiemstra said.To Deanda, like to many other people, Pope John Paul II was the peregrine pope.”He was the first pope to preach around the world,” Deanda said. “I would like the new pope to be similar to this pope who didn’t care about borders. He visited each country no matter how poor or powerful. He brought joy and peace, especially to countries in Latin America.”One of the things Anne Veretti, 38, of Eagle appreciated the most about Pope John Paul II was his expansion of Christianity in the Third World, she said.”At a time there’s been kind of a hijacking of Islam by terrorists, it was important the pope spread Christianity to vulnerable nations,” Veretti said.

Jamie Macmillan said the pope was a wonderful man who affected the church in very positive ways.”The fact he spoke so many languages allowed him to travel to 170 countries,” said Macmillan, 51, of Fulford. “He traveled more than any other pope.”Dan Johnson, 25, a Protestant from Eagle-Vail, also had some thoughts on the pope.”Even though he is political in a sense, he is also not political. He is very powerful and respected, but he doesn’t ally with a country,” Johnson said.What lies aheadPope John Paul II was a very inspirational leader, said Daiva Katieb, 32, of Eagle.”I really appreciate the work he did between different faiths,” Katieb said after attending Sunday Mass. When asked about the future of the church, Katieb said it’s time to make some changes.

“New ideas and new people are always good for institutions,” she said.The challenge for the next pope is to continue pressing for freedom and democracy for all people, Veretti said.”And speaking up for unjust wars when he might not have the popular voice to remind us what true Christianity is,” she added.The biggest challenge for the next pope is unity in the church, Goodwin said.”There’s a lot of other religions in the world today that need to be respected,” he said. “The next pope should consider them as well as the Catholic church.”To Father Stan Martinka, 76, a priest based in Juarez, Mexico, who gave mass at St. Mary’s Sunday, the pope’s death is an interesting crisis. “This pope had his ways of operating. Now, with a new mind, maybe it will change the way we attack certain moral issues,” Martinka said. “The changes depend on the mentality of the new pope. If he is slow and wants to retain what (John Paul II) has done, naturally he will be resistant, for instance, of considering women having to do more in the church in official positions. I think it’s inevitable. That’s the way the world is changing.

“In many ways he had a good mind, but he was conservative,” Martinka said of the pope.Of the five popes he has seen throughout his life, Pope John XXIII was his favorite, Martinka said.”I honored the most the man who allowed the changes,” Martinka said. “The changes in the Vatican came because of him with Vatican II. He was a hero.”Though he said he was sad the pope died, John Paul II – Karol Wojtyla- is in a better place, Goodwin said. “That’s where everyone wants to be after living a good life,” Goodwin said. “He lived a good life.”Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or vwhitney@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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