In the final hour of his pontificate, Dallas Catholics gathered at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe at noon Feb. 28 to give thanks and offer prayers for Pope Benedict XVI.
Auxiliary Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel led the Mass of Thanksgiving, welcoming Catholics and non-Catholics to pray for Pope Benedict.
“We join Catholics all over the world and the people of goodwill … and offer thanks for his gift of his ministry these last eight years,” Bishop Deshotel said.
At 1 p.m. local time, Pope Benedict XVI’s 8-year pontificate officially ended. The 85-year-old pope, who announced Feb. 11 his plans to become the first pope in 600 years to resign, arrived in Castel Gandolfo about two hours before the end of his pontificate. He planned to spend about two months at the papal villa south of Rome before moving into a former monastery in the Vatican Gardens.
Bishop Deshotel noted that in resigning, the pope made a wise decision based on love because he knew that the role of the pontiff in this ever-changing world requires “great physical stamina and mental acuteness and acknowledges he could best serve the church that he so loves by a life of prayer.”
Bishop Deshotel described the world that the pope has to engage in: a global ministry in which he has to balance the work of the church within the glare of 24-hour news cycles. A pope, Bishop Deshotel said, must understand the Catholics everywhere and be ready “to jump on an airplane to visit his world-wide flock.”
He said that despite his resignation that Pope Benedict had fulfilled the ministry of St. Peter and that he was a gift to the church.
“We have to thank God for the gift of Pope Benedict and what he has given us for the church,” Bishop Deshotel said.
He said that Pope Benedict’s legacy will be more appreciated in later years when his works are studied further and that his call for the Year of Faith and calling attention to the Catechism of the Catholic Church demonstrated a way for Catholics to grow deeper in their faith.
With more than 500 people in attendance, the Mass of Thanksgiving gave Dallas-area Catholics an opportunity to mark the historic day.
“I think it is so special that we can do something like this and he is still alive to experience the fruit of our prayers,” said 64-year-old Judy Milostan, adding that she was thankful the Diocese of Dallas scheduled the Mass. “I feel that when you pray for people, you can embrace them. With me being here and him being in Italy, I can still embrace him through prayer.”
Katy Warren, 36, a parishioner from St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church who traveled from Plano for the Mass, said it helped remind Catholics of all ages how important and historic an event was happening.
“I think it is important for children to realize and appreciate what they are seeing,” she said. “This is a historic time—being here to experience this and being able to relay that to others helps us understand what a beautiful faith we have.”
Warren added that this was also an opportunity to pray for future vocations.
“It is good to pray for future vocations, especially to the papacy,” she said. “I think it is important to show appreciation for those in the past who have helped us.”