By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Students at John Paul II Academy attended a special liturgy April 30 in honor of the newly-canonized St. John Paul II, their school’s patron.
Lynn Wilt, principal of John Paul II Academy, said the Mass was a way to acknowledge the historic moment and to honor the late pontiff.
“Our school’s namesake was named a saint and that is something these children know so much about,” Wilt said in an
interview before Mass. “He believed that children were the future of the Catholic Church and he reached out to them in all his travels throughout the world.”
Student artwork and essays about the new saint were displayed in the vestibule of St. Pius X Church, which shares its Goldsmith Lane location with John Paul II Academy. A sunny yellow banner with the image of St. John Paul hung in front of the baptismal font.
In his homily at the special liturgy, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz told the students that saints are not necessarily perfect people.
“Saints are meant to be authentic witnesses to Christ,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Kurtz noted St. John Paul’s love of young people and recalled a popular chant young people used to call out to him — “JP2, We love you.”
“It is the job of the Holy Father to introduce the world to Jesus Christ,” he explained.
Archbishop Kurtz told the students there are a couple of things they could learn from St. John Paul II. The first thing, he said, is that a saint is a real person.
“He was born. He was baptized. He grew up and went to school, just like you,” he said.
The second thing was how readily St. John Paul opened himself up to God’s plan — his vocation.
“Every one of you — just like me — we all have a special gift,” he said. “I hope that by going to a Catholic school you will begin to discover what your vocation is in life, what God’s plan is for you.”
St. John Paul II, Archbishop Kurtz said, was a person who became close to God through prayer.
“For John Paul II, praying was like breathing. He did it everyday,” he said. “Breathing is the way we stay alive. For John Paul II, his prayer was just like breathing.”
In his studies of St. John Paul, Nathan Barker, an eighth-grader at John Paul II Academy, said he was impressed with St. John Paul’s ability to engage the youth. Barker also said he was glad he was able to experience the canonization activities while he was still a student at the academy.
“The fact that our namesake was canonized while we are still here has been a good experience,” he said.