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Sacred Heart Parishioners Celebrate New Saints

Reported: Apr. 27, 2014 6:50 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 27, 2014 7:22 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Chris Williams) -- St. Peter's Square in Vatican City was jam-packed Sunday morning with people looking on as two former leaders of the Catholic Church became saints.

In Charleston, Catholics observed the historic event.

"Both of these men had very exemplary lives," said Father Ryan Stichweh of Sacred Heart. "They had a lot of impact on the way the church expresses their faith."

John the XXIII is credited with modernizing the Catholic Church by starting the Vatican II era. John Paul II is special to many Catholics because of his long papacy and his fight for peace.

"The role he played in bringing down the end of communism. The influence he had in Poland in particular," Sacred Heart parishioner Max Wilkinson said.

The process of becoming a saint can be long, and usually doesn't start until several years after a person dies. That's what makes this weekend's inductions into sainthood even more special. John Paul II is becoming a saint only nine years after he died.

"It wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for the people's minds to hold for 25, 50 years before we even begin this process," Stichweh said. "Let's just go ahead and start this now because of the sanctity that was already exemplified."

This is considered Divine Mercy Sunday, and Stichweh said that is the reason both popes were canonized together.

After mass Sunday at Sacred Heart, parishioners walked from their church to the B'Nai Jacob Synagogue to show support for current Pope Francis, who will take a trip to the Middle East next month.

"It's a good thing for us to be able to stand behind the pope and support him on this walk, as it is two faiths recognizing the rich tradition and heritage that we both share," Eric Milam, of Sacred Heart, said.

A day that's going to down in history is being celebrated by bringing the faithful together and supporting each other.



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