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Chicago-Area Catholics Celebrate Canonization Of John Paul II, John XXIII

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Catholics watched on TV as Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were canonized in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican Sunday.

At Five Holy Martyrs Church in Brighton Park, prayers began at midnight.

CBS 2’s Courtney Gousman reports the church was filled with hundreds of worshippers watching the canonization. The parishioners have a special connection with John Paul II, as he said Mass at the parish during his visit to Chicago in 1979.

“Being here definitely you could tell in people’s faces that they are taking this to their heart and this is a very special moment. Being part of it definitely made me happy,” said Bogumila Komperda.

“I have a very strong connection to John Paul II, wonderful person, historical figure. I feel he changed the course of history,” said Agnieszaka Kielian.

Parishioners at Five Holy Martyrs watched the canonization and held a special Mass afterward.

They were also celebrating at Pope John XXIII Elementary School in Evanston. He was chosen as the school’s patron in 1986 because of his emphasis on inclusion, bit no one foresaw sainthood.

“No one, I think, could have seen it happening within our lifetime, so I think it’s really a joy to be able to celebrate that,” said Fr. Bill Tkachuk.

John XXIII celebrated for dramatic change he championed.

“He made it so we could speak English during masses which I think it the best change because I cannot sit through Latin speaking masses,” said Henry Haracz.

The two parishes that support Pope John XXIII School, St. Mary’s and St. Nicholas, say the sainthood spotlight has already produced positive dividends and a lot of added attention for their blue ribbon school.