South Shore faithful pay respect to pope |

South Shore faithful pay respect to pope

Susan Wood

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Father John Grace reads from the Bible at a Mass for Pope John Paul II at St. Theresa Catholic Church Tuesday afternoon.

Between the choral start at noon to bells at the 1 p.m. ending, angelic music rang in and out of St. Theresa Catholic Church during a special service Tuesday to honor Pope John Paul II.

More than 150 of the South Lake Tahoe faithful paid their respects to a man who many say led the church with dignity, grace, love and the promise of unity.

The late pope worked tirelessly to bring people of different faiths together. Some in Tahoe believe he has accomplished that with the turnout of people affected and moved by his death.

“I was just thinking about that,” a tearful Judy Finn said after the service.

Frances Matolyak agreed. She considers the procession following the death of such a public figure a time in history for all people to share.

“It’s not only for Christians but for people of other faiths,” she said.

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Matolyak, who grew up a Catholic in Redding, Pa., went as far as to call the pope’s death miraculous for that reason. Millions are anticipated to have witnessed some form of the procession this week – from the movement of his body Monday to the funeral scheduled Friday.

The Rev. Mark Richards pointed out to St. Theresa’s parishioners, including students at the school, that John Paul had a great impact on his Jewish friends and worked on behalf of the poor and suffering. In so many circumstances, he displayed outreach.

Richards told the congregation that he met the pope as a college student in Austria.

“We were extremely fortunate to shake his hand,” he said. Even though he was starstruck, it became apparent to Richards the pope had “deep moral integrity.”

“Unlike the rock star, this was a man who changed people’s lives. He didn’t just preach the gospel. He lived it,” he said.