Suffolk mourns dead Pope

CATHOLICS in Suffolk are joining millions across the world to mark the death of Pope John Paul II.Father Francis Leeder, parish priest for St Pancras Roman Catholic Church in Orwell Place, Ipswich, said turnout at the church's masses yesterday was almost double.

CATHOLICS in Suffolk are joining millions across the world to mark the death of Pope John Paul II.

Father Francis Leeder, parish priest for St Pancras Roman Catholic Church in Orwell Place, Ipswich, said turnout at the church's masses yesterday was almost double.

Father Leeder said the mood among its hundreds-strong congregation ranged from sadness to hope.

He said: "The mood was one of sadness because we have lost such a wonderful man, joy that he has peace and relief at last, and hope we will get a man good and brave enough to take his place."


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Monsignor Peter Leeming, rural dean of Ipswich and parish priest for St Mary's Church in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, said: "There has been sadness, but also thankfulness that John Paul II's suffering has come to an end and thankfulness for his ministry. There is also optimism as to who the new pope will be."

St Mary's has regular Polish masses and Monsignor Leeming said he thought Ipswich's Polish community would be sad.

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He said: "To be a Pole, to have a Polish Pope and for that Pope to have been instrumental in liberating Poland from the yoke of communism is a very special thing. I would think they are sad but thankful."

John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyla, was the first non-Italian Pope for more than 450 years and led the Roman Catholic Church since 1978.

John Paul II clocked up more than 750,000 miles around the globe, visiting Britain in 1982.

He died in his Vatican rooms on Saturday evening aged 84, after suffering heart and kidney failure.

After the official mourning period, the cardinals will hold a secret vote in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel to choose John Paul II's successor.

Ipswich's St Pancras parishioners expressed their respect for the late Pontiff.

Margaret Burch, 79, of Moffat Avenue, Ipswich, said: "It's a sad time, but it's also a relief that the Holy Father is at peace. He will be greatly missed - and not just by Catholics."

Edward McKinley, 78, of Silent Street, Ipswich, said: "He changed the world. He went out and met people and brought them together."

Sue Manley of Capel Drive, Felixstowe, said: "The last lesson he taught all of us is that you can't just give up."

Bernie Wood, of east Ipswich, said: "Pope John Paul II was so special - he reached out to everybody. He has been a very love-filled, truth-filled father figure."

Katy Pointer, 28, of Grundisburgh, added: "There is sadness that he has gone, but there is relief and joy that he has gone to a better place."

A special deanery mass will be held for the late pope at St Mary's Church in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, at 7.30pm on Friday.

What are your opinions of Pope John Paul II? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

AS the Pope lay dying, thousands gathered in the Vatican to pay their last respects - including two young Suffolk women.

Susanna and Johanna Ward today shared their experience of being there during the last hours of Pope John Paul II's life.

The two sisters, both in their mid-20s, travelled to the Vatican early on Saturday, before returning later that evening.

Susanna, who lives near Ipswich, said: "He loves us so much and I wanted to go and pay my respects.

"There were lots of young people in ones and in twos and lots of young families with little children. People were looking at the window and praying.

"The atmosphere was very quiet and calm. There was no distress or hysteria, it was just very peaceful.

"I think he touched everybody there. They had all had a deeply personal relationship with him. He loved us all and was a good teacher.

Johanna, who used to live in the county but now lives in west London, added: "I was proud to be there. It was deeply emotional, but not in any way hysterical."

The sisters had to leave the Vatican before the Pope's death, but Susanna said: "It showed us a holy death and a good way to die."

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