Parishioners of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church near Cumming celebrated a special mass this morning to remember Pope John Paul the Second and his visit to their parish. The pope visited the small church that sits a few miles off the interstate on a dusty gravel road in Madison County on October 4, 1979 prior to holding a large outdoor mass at Living History Farms. A church history says Pope John Paul’s visit lasted just 42 minutes. Parishioners like Francis Lynch say though the memories are still vivid. He says he remembers it was a beautiful but cold day. He says the weather cleared up about the time the pope arrived. Lynch says he believes the visit really brought the church back to its faith. Lynch’s wife Dorothy says even today it’s still hard to believe the pope actually visited their church. She says, “It was just such a wonderful day …to be able to be here in the church and for him to come out to our little parish.” She says it’s something they will always remember all their lives. The pope’s helicopter landed on the nearby farm of John Connor who says the man who represented so much connected immediately with the people of St. Patrick’s. He says the pope was just like an old friend, “so easy to meet, so easy to know. You know, didn’t matter who you was, or what you was, he was the same, same person. And Connor believes pope felt right at home in rural Iowa, even though he never thought it would happen. He says it was, “Unbelievable, It was something out of this world you might say. The pope coming here out all places in the world.” Connor says today’s mass honoring the pope on a sunny day was beautiful and fitting. He says, “He was such a remarkable fella.” Connor and Lynch say people still stop by to see the church. She says they just wanna see the church and be in the church the pope was in. Connor says many people want to sit on the chair that the pope used. Inside the church you can see a bust of the pope, pictures from the day he visited, and a bronze plaque bearing all the names of the church members who were present on that day.
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