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Pope's Death Impacts Guests At Homeless Shelter

ByJeremy Reynalds
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) -- Among his many other accomplishments, Pope John Paul II was known as a champion of the needy and the homeless.

In a 1997 message he spoke about the Christian’s duty to help the homeless, saying, “In the Old Testament, the Torah teaches that strangers and the homeless in general, inasmuch as they are exposed to all sorts of dangers, deserve special concern from the believer. Indeed, God clearly and repeatedly recommends hospitality and generosity toward the stranger (cf. Dt. 24:17-18, 10:18-19; Nm. 15:15, etc.), reminding Israel of how precarious its own existence had once been. Later, Jesus identified himself with the homeless (saying), ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Mt. 25-35), and taught that charity toward those in this situation will be rewarded in heaven.”

When asked if they felt personally impacted by the Pope’s death, some guests at Joy Junction in Albuquerque, New Mexico said they were both touched by what he had done for the disenfranchised as well as the man in general.

One guest said, “I am both sad and happy; sad that such a great man is gone, but happy that he is no longer suffering. I don't think that anyone can replace him. He visited places where no one else wanted to go – just to help. He went to the poorest of poor. He was a very forgiving person.”

Another individual called the Pope’s death “a great loss.” He said, “The man suffered a long time, and he will be greatly missed for his humanitarian deeds. He did more for the downtrodden, the homeless and the third world that any other Pope in recent history that I can remember.”

One person commented, “His death meant the end of an original - a legend. His work for the needy was amazing. He was from the old school and I really believe he knew what he was doing all of the time.”

Another person living at Joy Junction said the Pope had a very positive influence on young people. He said, “My mother was involved with the gathering of youth in Denver and she spoke of it until the day she passed herself. She cherished the experience. I'm not Catholic but ... I am concerned. I worried how the choice of the new pope to be called is going to affect the world. I pray they ... will accept him in a positive way.”

He added, “Although (I’m) sad for the people who mourn him, I'm happy for him. Being a disciple of God, he will join our heavenly Father and for that reason he is far better off.”

A husband and wife staying at Joy Junction agreed. They said, “He was a great man and did many great things...especially touching young peoples’ hearts and minds about God. He loved all people and we loved him. He will be missed, and ... remembered for his great love of God and his leadership.”

One guest shelter recalled meeting the Pope. He said, “I was part of a US Military Liaison to the Vatican ... The Pope came by an alcove where I was sitting. We had a brief conversation. I was struck by the quiet, yet angry power in the man. I consider myself blessed to have met him.”

Another guest added, “I am not a Catholic, but I and the world are saddened by the loss of such a good man. He did work very hard to keep the peace, and also apologized many times for the way the Jews were treated in World War II. The Catholic priests have a lot of bad spots on their records. But the Pope, in my opinion, was a very good man who cared for more than just his followers. He cared deeply for the whole world.”

Also not a Catholic, another person added, “I love the things he said and it's a sad thing to hear that he had passed. The words of wisdom will be missed, but now he is with the Lord in His Kingdom. He will live on through his words and kindness.”

One person said that in spite of the sadness, there is nonetheless an upside to the Pope’s death. “While it's very sad that he passed ... I feel he finished his purpose here. So I’m happy he went home to rest.”

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Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is a candidate for the Ph.D. in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Assist News Service is brought to you in part by Open Doors USA, a ministry that has served the Suffering Church around the world for nearly 50 years. You can get more information by logging onto their website at

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