- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 2, 2006

Catholic churches across the region joined in memorial services around the world yesterday to mark the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.

Hundreds of people attended an afternoon service at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Northeast.

A concert there featured the Suspicious Cheese Lords quartette and brother-and-sister pianists Jeffrey and Olivia Ly.

“Would John Paul not be ecstatic?” asked master of ceremonies Hugh M. Dempsey as the concert ended and Monsignor William Kerr hugged the children, Jeffrey, 11, and Olivia, 9.

John M. Grondelski, a former associate dean of the Seton Hall University School of Theology in New York, told those attending the service: “John Paul put the person foremost in his thoughts. People are and remain more important than money. … John Paul changed the world.”

The center displayed photographs, documents and other artifacts that recorded John Paul’s contributions to improved relations between the Catholic and Jewish faiths.

John Paul was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in Poland. He served as pontiff for 26 years until his death at 84.

The Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington also hosted a memorial for the late pope.

“In this pope we glimpsed greatness,” said Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde, who was ordained bishop by John Paul in 1988. “Whether his personal holiness or vibrant intellect, his bold leadership or humble service, they all stemmed from the deep waters of his own life of prayer.”

Tens of thousands of people from around the world attended a candlelight service at the Vatican to mark the anniversary and to pray that John Paul would be made a saint.

“I pray every day,” said Katarzyna Malec, from Krakow, Poland. “He is a man that changed Poland, changed me, changed the whole world. He was already a saint in his lifetime.”

From the pope’s native Poland, the United States, Asia and Italy, many came to pray the rosary, observe a moment of silence and hear an address by Pope Benedict XVI.

A sea of Polish flags filled the square as dusk settled. Some countrymen of the late pope displayed a huge banner from his hometown of Wadowice in southern Poland.

Nuns in black habits and Franciscan monks in brown robes joined young people in jeans.

Many of them had waited together for hours to visit John Paul’s tomb in St Peter’s Basilica.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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