South Bend, Ind. As swarms of visitors descended upon St. Peter's Square Sunday, back in Michiana, Catholics were doing their part to celebrate the first ever canonization of two popes.
Even from thousands of miles away, parishioners at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend honored Popes John XXIII and John Paul II with their intentions at Mass Sunday morning.
“For most people, their consciousness of their adult lives was shaped by John Paul II,” explained Monsignor Michael Heintz, Director of St. Matthew Cathedral. “You know, that’s most people in their 20s, 30s 40s -- he shaped most of their adult life.”
And for those old enough to remember John XXIII and Vatican II, John Paul’s predecessor also shaped their development.
“There are people who are still alive who remember these pontiffs, very much so,” Monsignor Heintz said.
The parish also has a special connection to John Paul II, going back about 25 years.
“There are people in our parish that actually got to meet John Paul,” he said. “Our choir, a number of years ago got to sing in Rome for the papal audience.”
Parishioner Marty Moriconi said special events like these strengthen the tie between the Vatican and places like South Bend.
“Usually it takes many years and you don't see this in your life time if you’ve seen a pope,” Moriconi said. “So we think it's exciting that it's been done this quickly.”
And Monsignor Heintz hopes that the newfound excitement might also stir the attention of those who have strayed from active worship.
“You know, lots of people come to church at Easter who don't come normally through the year,” Heintz said. “This is another one of those moments for those who perhaps self-identify as Catholic, but don't practice much, to stop and think about it and perhaps come back to Church.”