Rockford Remembers a Pope

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Locally, heads bowed and hands joined in prayer in papal remembrance. Hundreds gathered at St. Peter's Cathedral in downtown Rockford for a special mass Friday morning.

"You have come to me and I thank you," were the last words of Pope John Paul II.

Friday, hundreds came to St. Peter's Church in Rockford to say thank you to the only pope most have known.

"He was a rock for our faith," says Boylan High School student Peter Logli.

"He was a great pope, probably one of the greatest popes ever," adds Brian Denoff, who also attended Friday’s services.

Pews were filled with both the young and the old mourning the pope's death and celebrating his life in prayer, in reflection and in song.

"It was a sendoff for a saint, a beautiful pope," says Rosemary O’Connell.

But students from St. Peter's School and Boylan Catholic High School were also a focal point, fitting, Monsignor William Schwartz says, because Pope John Paul absorbed so much of his energy from children, the future of the church.

"It was very moving for me to look at all these children and realize how much he loved them and cared about them," says Monsignor Schwartz.

"That's something that made all of us feel special and important; that's what the pope was so amazing about," adds Logli.

He was a man who spoke eight languages and bridged world divides, yet his followers say he was a man who chose not to let the light shine only on him, but instead on all of God's work.