LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Newly-canonized Popes John XXIII and John Paul II may represent differing philosophical and spiritual directions for the Roman Catholic Church, but their tenures span four generations.
Church leaders and lay Catholics believe that helps explain why their elevation resonates so strongly both in Kentuckiana and around the world.
"I know just through friends and family members, who weren't connected to any church. Everyone truly felt [John Paul II] passing," parishioner Kelly Henry said.
"Just how he was able to leave such an impact on the world in such a short time. It didn't really sink in until this morning," she continued.
Henry was referring to Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption, where her 8-year-old daughter Elisa joined thirteen more boys and girls in celebration of their First Communion.
"I hope she continues to live as a good person," Henry said. "To be generous to others. To welcome everyone. Not only into her home but into the community."
"Each of us have our own unique charisma that we're called to bring to the table," Father Jeff Nicolas said. "That we're called to bring to the church."
Father Nicolas demonstrated that to the new communicants and congregation through a simple exercise: joining hands to reach from the Cathedral altar to its baptismal font.
"We're all called to be links in this chain of passing on the faith," he explained afterward. "And that we can be inspired by John Paul II and John XXIII. The Church continues to name Holy men and women that are held up to us as mirrors of Christ, and also, goals that we can reach for in our own lives."
"It really hit home not only with the adults but with the kids," Henry said.
It's a matter of seeing modern saints as relatable role-models.
"The best we can do is be the best men and women we can be, the best versions of ourselves," Father Nicolas said. "That's how we become saints."
"They've been given a gift," Henry said. "Now it's their job to go out and share it with others."
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