St. Theresa students learn lessons of John Paul’s life: No school Friday in honor of funeral |

St. Theresa students learn lessons of John Paul’s life: No school Friday in honor of funeral

William Ferchland


On the first day of school after a weeklong spring break and the death of Pope John Paul II, plenty of students at St. Theresa Catholic School wanted information.

And the Rev. Mark Richards was there with answers.

As a generation introduced to its first death of a pope and the method of selecting the next head of the Roman Catholic Church, many students, such as those in Grace Connell’s sixth-grade class, had questions.

Richards opened his dialogue gently, questioning the students on the pope’s duties. Answers came in the form of teaching about Jesus Christ being in charge of the church and those in the clergy below.

Richards went on to explain that Pope John Paul II was the 264th pope since St. Peter, an apostle to Jesus.

He briefly referred to the travels of John Paul – known in some circles as the “pilgrim pope” – and how he was the first pope to enter a synagogue.

Recommended Stories For You

“Like a president or a king he has that diplomat authority as well,” Richards said, adding “He just wasn’t a pope for Catholics.”

Payton Guttry wondered what ailment the pontiff died from. Peter Pieleat-Strayer questioned Richards if the pope, did in fact, free Poland.

“Why can’t a woman be pope?” asked Ashley Zwerdling.

Richards answered it was tradition, since Jesus’ 12 apostles were all men and the belief is man cannot change that decision.

One students asked if a cardinal from America would be chosen as pope. Richards responded that it would be difficult as world views see America as having power already and not enough linguistic skills.

The reverend did not include the sex scandals that rocked the Catholic Church in the United States as part of his answer.

Others questioned whether the bones of St. Peter were still in their resting place and if someone has tried to steal them.

Richards ended the question-and-answer period with a reminder to students to offer daily prayer during the mourning period.

Principal Danette Winslow said there will be no school Friday to honor John Paul’s funeral.

– E-mail William Ferchland at