Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County -- Students of Holy Redeemer High School in Wilkes-Barre lifted their voices in song, prayer and praise. They participated in a school program Friday morning in celebration of this weekend's canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. Some of the students researched the lives of the two pontiffs before participating in the program. "It was interesting reading up all about them because there's a lot of fun facts that you really don't get pulled to public attention," said senior Casey Carty of Harveys Lake.
Senior Bryce Partlow of Newport Township served as prayer leader during the assembly that helped Holy Redeemer students better understand how two 20th century popes could become 21st century saints. "A lot of people forget how canonization works; that it's a varied, long process."
The process this time is especially unique as Holy Redeemer Chaplain/Dean of Students Rev. Joseph Elston explained. "There's canonization's from time to time but it doesn't get as much press or as much attention as this one did because they're two recent popes... both extraordinary examples of the papacy and their own priesthood and their own lives."
While John XXIII'S papacy ended decades before the students were born, John Paul is someone the high school seniors knew. They were third graders when he died in 2005. "Everybody thought that John Paul was just a cool guy and he was kind of down to earth," said Mr. Partlow. Ms. Carty added, "It's definitely interesting that to see somebody who obviously was so influential in the church and in the world."
Rev. Elston believes these modern day popes, like their predecessors, will remain influential on the Holy Redeemer family. "We try to keep people aware that these are ordinary people who've been called by God to do his work and that they could be in the same position."