The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh, marked the beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II with the celebration of Sunday Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Southern Pines on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011. The parish’s elementary/middle school is named Pope John Paul II School, after the late pontiff.
“This is a proud day for our Catholic Church as the holiness, faith, strength and courage of John Paul II is held up for the world to see and to imitate,” Bishop Burbidge said in his homily. He noted that at the heart of Pope John Paul II’s ministry was the proclamation of the Gospel of Life. “He consistently and convincingly taught that all of life, from the moment of conception to natural death, is sacred and must be protected, celebrated and nurtured. He reminded us of the dignity that belongs to every human person and stressed the reason: because we are created in the image and likeness of God and His Holy Spirit dwells within us.”
Bishop Burbidge spoke of the importance of forgiveness, which is the hallmark of Divine Mercy in the Scriptures. “This is not always easy,” the Bishop noted, “yet, it is always possible due to the grace of God especially bestowed to us in the Sacraments.”
In the afternoon, Bishop Burbidge presided at a Divine Mercy Prayer Service at St. Anthony of Padua. Msgr. Jeffrey Ingham, Pastor of St. Anthony, led the service, which included a procession, Exposition of the Eucharist, the opportunity for Reconciliation, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction.
Following the Mass, a reception was held for the parish community, with children of Pope John Paul II School putting on a presentation. On Saturday, April 30, students from the school held a "Bake for the Bishop" afternoon, preparing cakes and cookies, with the help of parents for Sunday's reception. (See student photo gallery below.)
Above: Bishop Burbidge making some final comments on Blessed Pope John Paul II near the end of Divine Mercy Sunday Mass celebrated at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Southern Pines.
Above: Children from Pope John Paul II School during presentation at reception following Mass.
Above: Procession beginning celebration of Divine Mercy Prayer Service at St. Anthony of Padua.
Above: Students at Pope John Paul II School holding a "Bake for the Bishop" day on April 30, preparing cookies and cakes for reception on Divine Mercy Sunday.