SPECIAL SERVICES MARK DEATH OF PONTIFF
MEMBERS of the city's Catholic Community will join with millions around the world this morning (Friday) to mourn the passing of Pope John Paul II.
The late Pontiff who died at the Vatican on Saturday evening will be buried at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome following Requiem Mass.
At St. Patrick's Church in Chapel Hill the usual morning Mass at 10.00am has been cancelled.
Instead, Mass will be celebrated at 7.30am and 12.00noon to give worshippers an opportunity to both attend church and watch television coverage of the Pope's funeral.
On Thursday morning children from Catholic schools in Lisburn attended a special Mass in memory of the Pope which also took place in St. Patrick's.
This was celebrated at 11.00am and pupils of St. Patrick's High School and St. Joseph's and St. Aloysius Primaries took part in the Scripture readings, Prayers of Intercession and the Presentation of the Gifts.
Other churches in the Lisburn area are also holding special services to mark the death of Pope John Paul.
A special Mass was celebrated at St. Anne's, Kingsway on Monday evening and many people were also expected to attend Mass in the church this morning at 8.30.
Worshippers will gather at Mater Dei Church in Crumlin this morning at 8.00 for a special Mass which will end in time to allow people to watch the live coverage of the Pope's funeral.
A Requiem Mass for the Pope was celebrated at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Carryduff on Wednesday evening.
A Mass will also be held at the Church of Christ the Redeemer in Lagmore at 7.30pm tonight.
St Luke's Church in Twinbrook has marked the period of mourning for the Pope with a special Mass in his memory each day.
Worshippers also gathered at the church last night (Thursday) at 7.30pm to remember the Pontiff.
The congregation at St. Colman's, Lambeg attended a special Mass in the Pope's memory last night at 7.30pm.
The Church of the Nativity in Poleglass will
hold a special Mass this morning at 8.30am.
Churches responding to call from Bishop Walsh
BY holding special services in memory of Pope John Paul 11 local churches were responding to a call from the Bishop of Down and Connor for every parish in the Diocese to celebrate Mass 'on a suitable date and time for his eternal peace'.
The Most Reverend Patrick Walsh described the late Pontiff as 'an heroic man' and said he was heroic "at every stage of his life from a very early age when he lost his mother, his only brother and then his father.
"He was heroic in the hardships he endured under the Communist regime in his country," the Bishop continued.
"He was heroic in the manner in which he endured the attempt on his life and he was heroic in his long time suffering with his illness.
"He heroic in his dying. He taught us how to live, how to suffer and how to die."
Bishop Walsh said the sadness of Catholics at the death of the Pope was shared by their fellow Christians and by 'so many non Christians' whom he described as 'people of goodwill who recognised in the Pope a person who in his constant teaching on so many issues affecting the good of humanity was in many respects the conscience of the world'.
He also said when Bishops visited the Pontiff on five yearly official visits he always showed a great awareness of life, suffering and death in the context of the Diocese of Down and Connor and always expressed particular concern for those priests who exercised their pastoral ministry in difficult circumstances.
"I know the faithful people of Down and Connor will now be praying that, his holy Week of suffering over, he will, with his sins forgiven, enter into the Easter joy of the Risen Christ," the Bishop concluded.
Lisburn's Parish Priest recalls his meetings with Pope John Paul
The first of these occurred on January 13, 1980 - just month's after the highly successful papal visit to Ireland - and took place in a room behind one of the three windows watched anxiously by crowds in the St. Peter's Square last weekend as the world waited for the sad but inevitable news of the Pontiff s passing.
Father Rogan recalled how, more than 25 years ago, he waited in one of these same rooms while the Pope said the Angelus.
"I was looking down over the thousands of people in the Square when a photographer came in and asked me if I was the only person meeting the Pope that day," he said. "Then the Holy Father came in with his Secretary Monsignor John Magee who is now the Bishop of Cloynes and there was just the four of us in the room.
"He signed two beautiful pictures of himself for me - one of these pictures is now in the porch at St. Patrick's beside the Book of Condolence - and gave me a set of Rosary Beads."
Father Rogan said he thanked the Pope for making his visit to Ireland and in particular for his trip to Galway which he had attended with a large number of young people from the Down and Connor Diocese.
He then had an opportunity to present the Pontiff with a gift of his own.
"I had Rosary Beads in my pocket which I bought at Knock when I visited the shrine the previous October," he explained.
"They had the image of Our Lady of Knock on them and I gave them to him.
"He said: 'I have given to you and now you have given to me'.
"When he left the room he went along the corridor kissing those Rosary Beads."
Father Rogan next met the Holy Father in July of 1980 when he took a group of 120 young people from Down and Connor to the Papal summer residence Castel Gandalfo which is located on the Appian Way in the Roman countryside. "We spent an hour and a Half with the Pope and I was in charge of the singing," Father Rogan recalled.
"We sang a lot of songs for him but eventually we ran out of hymns.
"I explained this to him but he laughed and said 'the Pope needs more'. "
So then we sang some Irish songs including the 'Mountains of Mourne'." At this stage someone suggested Father Rogan should sing 'Danny Boy'. "So I sang Danny Boy for him and then he got up and everyone came forward to meet him," he added.
In the years that followed Father Rogan came upon several mementoes of this trip cherished by the young people who took part.
Father Feargal McGrady, Parish Priest of St. Colman's, Lambeg has a much treasured photograph of himself with Pope John Paul II taken when he went on the pilgrimage as a young man. Another lady who Father Rogan visits has a similar photograph of her son taken during the trip to Castel Gandalfo.
His final and most poignant meeting with the Holy Father came three years ago when he and Father Tom Toner of St. Peter's Cathedral celebrated the 40th anniversary of their ordination.
The two priests travelled to Rome together and Bishop Patrick Walsh contacted the Pope's Secretary to tell him of their special anniversary.
"We were invited to concelebrate Mass with His Holiness," said Father Rogan.
"This was very special for us but the Pope was a very sick man at the time.
"However, it was a wonderful occasion and I have photographs of myself chatting with the Pope and receiving another set of Rosary Beads from him."
Memorable meeting for a young man
He was only 19 when he and more than 100 other young people from the Diocese of Down and Connor travelled to Italy to meet Pope John Paul just months after the Pontiffs historic visit to Ireland.
The trip took place less than two years after the selection of the Pontiff by the School of Cardinals and Father McGrady said it was still 'rare' for a party of young people to meet the Pope in this way.
"It was a very special occasion for me and it meant a lot," he recalled.
"Really it created a bond which has continued right up until the present day.
"I went on to meet the Pope several times since 1980 and he always took a great interest in Ireland and showed a great regard for this country."
Father McGrady said the late Pope had made himself 'very accessible' especially to young people and at times gave up part of his summer holidays to meet them.
His meeting with the Holy Father took place at his summer residence of Castel Gandalfo and he has a much treasured photograph of himself with the Pontiff.
Sympathy letter be sent to Irish Primate
A REQUEST by Ulster Unionist Councillor Ned Falloon at the Planning Committee meeting on Monday night that Lisburn Council send a letter to the Catholic Irish Primate Sean Brady, expressing the council's deepest sympathy following the death of Pope John Paul II, was agreed.