Western MA residents react to new saints - WNEM TV 5

Western MA residents react to new saints

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CHICOPEE, MA (WSHM) -

The Catholic church has two new saints.

Pope Francis declared popes John XXIII and John Paul II saints in a historic ceremony Sunday morning at the Vatican.

John XXIII was pope from 1958 to 1963.

John Paul II led the church for 25 years, beginning in 1978.

While Sunday's ceremony drew hundreds of thousands to the Vatican, it also made an impact on Catholics closer to home.

"They're both 20th century men, and the atrocities that they saw were at the end of the 20th century, yet these men didn't turn in on themselves, or become negative or cynical," said Father Michael Zielke of the Basilica of St. Stanislaus. "They all the more relied on the Lord."

Zielke reflected on the events in Vatican City and told CBS 3 that Sunday was an appropriate day for the canonizations to happen.  

"Since John Paul has been pope, this second Sunday of Easter has been called Divine Mercy, where he reminds us that if we didn't have God's mercy, none of us would be here," said Zielke. "It's all God's merciful love. I don't think it's by chance that these two men were canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday."

Both men are highly respected by churchgoers, but those in attendance said that John Paul II stood out for his influence over a younger generation.

"There's been so many youth that have been affected by him, and that's a really good thing," said Darlene Baptiste. "Now we can start getting the youth evangelizing, and I think that's really important."

Zielke said Sunday's canonization is really just the start, adding that people should look at their new saints as a way to live going forward.

"How do we make the gospel real?" asked Zielke. "How do we make God's mercy real? How do we make the Lord's love real? These two men did it in their unique ways, and so we're called to do it in our own unique ways too."

St. Stanislaus plans to officially celebrate the new saints on May 18.

They said that is the birthday of John Paul II.

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