Friday Evening Mass Carries Solemn Mood In East Texas

They gathered to pay respects and pray for a man most say transformed the Catholic Church. It's a common Catholic practice to hold Mass on the first Friday of every month.  However, Friday evening in Tyler there was nothing common about the mood.

"It's a little more solemn a little more at peace," said parishioner Michael Jordan. "I wanted to say a special prayer for the holy father because we are celebrating his life. He taught us to celebrate the life of Christ."

"Although his body is dying his spirit is not," said Terri Bolton.

"The man's been very good," said Ken Duke, "he's done a lot of good in his life time. We just feel a bond with him because he has been over our church for so many years."

For most young people around the world, Pope John Paul II is the only Pope they've known.
"I feel really sad because I really didn't know him as long as my parents did," said Liandria Rios. "So (Mass) just makes me feel better."

"Like so many Catholics around the world we're just trying to offer our condolences and hope that he's not suffering and we don't believe he is," said Ken Duke.

As millions around the world continue to pray, those in East Texas are with them. Many said they are still learning from the pope even as time slips away.

"In his dying," Michael said, "he's still teaching us how to live."

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com