"I think that he is the greatest leader that we have ever experienced in our lifetime," says Chon Alcorta. He and his wife Lupe are attending mass like they have every Sunday at Our Lady of Grace for almost 40 years, but on this particular Sunday, they are celebrating the legacy Pope John Paul II leaves behind. "He has always taught us how to live our faith, how to be proud of who were are," explains Chon.
A moment of silence for the spiritual leader, the couple say, has helped shape their beliefs. "Throughout the years in my lifetime that he had taught me how to love, how to forgive, how to serve and how to live and also now at the end of his lifetime how to die in grace and in prayer," Chon says.
"What people saw in him was that he was a deeply spiritual man, in love with God and in love with life," says Father David Cruz, who leads the church in paying tribute. "I was really inspired by the prayers of people that came as we gathered for mass and will continue to gather as we remember Pope John Paul The Second that passed away to eternal life," says Father Cruz.
|Pope John Paul II Special Coverage Section|
"Peace Be with you, and also with you," echoes the church. It's an uplifting message for all humanity, one Father Cruz says will continue to inspire believers everywhere. "It really brings to mind how he's teaching us by his example and taught us that we need to learn to love each other and to respect the dignity of every person that nobody can take away that's really God-given," he explains.
Our Lady of Grace has more than 2,000 members. Father Cruz says the church will be praying in the coming months as the next pope is selected.