Area parishes plan prayer for health of the pontiff

No formal services set by Baltimore churches

February 02, 2005|By Janice D'Arcy | Janice D'Arcy,SUN STAFF

As Catholics around the world held private vigil for Pope John Paul II, who was rushed to a hospital in Rome yesterday, local Catholics learned of his illness too late to gather formally.

With at least 80 parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore holding regularly scheduled Masses today, there will be many opportunities to gather in prayer for the 84-year-old pontiff's health.

Parish priests said they were preparing to include acknowledgments in their Masses while word spread that the pope's flu had progressed into respiratory difficulties.

"Oh, we will," the Rev. Jordan Hite, a pastor in residence at St. Wenceslaus on Ashland Avenue in Baltimore, said of the plans to say a special prayer during the 8 a.m. Mass there.

Since the official word from the Vatican late yesterday was that the pope was brought to the hospital "mainly as a precaution," there was no immediate public reaction from the archdiocese.

As of late yesterday, diocese spokesman Sean Caine said, no special services were planned. Caine said decisions about such and any statement from Cardinal William Keeler would come today.

Yet, since the pope suffers from Parkinson's disease and has scaled back much of his previously vigorous schedule, there is public alarm with any news of a sudden illness.

The Rev. Andrew Carr, assistant pastor at St. Patrick on Broadway in Baltimore, said his parish and all others were likely to include a prayer for the pope during the prayer of the faithful portion of the mass. It was too soon to plan for anything more formal, he said, "We need more news."

Carr added that formal gatherings may be beside the point now. "We can all pray in our own way for his health. He's a great man," he said.

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