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Sydney Cathedral to broadcast funeral of John Paul II

Pope John Paul II's funeral Mass will be telecast live on large screens in St Mary's Cathedral from 6.00 to 8.30 pm this evening, with young people in particular encouraged to attend.

Sydney auxiliary Bishop Porteous said: "John Paul II had great rapport with young people. This is an opportunity for them to celebrate his life and witness to his impact on the world and on their lives."

Cardinal Pell phoned from Rome to give his support to the event, which will be interspersed with songs and witness, and continue well into the evening.

In Australia, there will be complete coverage of the funeral from St Peter's on SBS, ABC, and the Nine Network, and ABC NewsRadio. The other two networks will interrupt programs for live crosses.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, young people gathered in St Patrick's Cathedral at 6:30 last night for an hour of prayer for the Pope, followed by a multimedia presentation on his life, and personal stories of his impact on the lives of young people.

A statement from Archdiocesan youth leaders said: "When society offered 'Generation X & Y' mediocrity, Pope John Paul II provided guidance and strength to young people in a language we understood... He challenged us to radically love the marginalised and underprivileged; to oppose unjust systems; to strive for true and authentic relationships."

"We loved him for it!," the youth leaders said.

The Age reports that students at Melbourne's Sacre Coeur Secondary College will mark the day with candles and prayerful silence (pictured).

Principal John Fox said students from all years would spend Friday religious classes in prayer at the chapel, ensuring an all-day vigil in honour of the pontiff.

"The students have been genuinely sad, even the young ones," he said. "They have been asking how they can honour his memory. The Pope was so well known and he had such a presence through the media."

But most Catholic schools in Victoria have been closed this week for school holidays and are expected to hold commemorative services when they resume on 18 April.

Flags will be flown at half-mast at Melbourne Town Hall today as a mark of respect.

In the northern NSW Diocese of Armidale, a congregation of more than 1200 people of all ages filled at Armidale's Catholic cathedral on yesterday morning for the solemn Mass for the Dead for the late Pope John Paul II.

CathNews reader John Farrell writes that the numbers were swelled by children from St Mary's Parish School and O'Connor Catholic College, as well as pupils from the Catholic school in Guyra and Catholic students from the New England Girls' School.

There were also many people from other denominations who came to say farewell to a church leader they admired.

The service was led by Bishop Luc Matthys, who was assisted by the three priests on the cathedral staff.

Welcoming the capacity congregation, Bishop Matthys said they had gathered to pray for the repose of the soul Pope John Paul.

Talking directly to all the young people in the congregation Bishop Matthys said that in years to come they could say: 'I was there the day we said goodbye to Pope John Paul'.

Reflecting on the scripture readings for the Mass, Bishop Matthys said "John Paul lived his all his life with his life with his heart set on sharing the resurrection of Christ, and we should follow that example."

As the bishop, clergy and congregation were leaving the cathedral, they were greeted with a peel of half-muffled bells from St Peter's Anglican cathedral.

Bell-ringer, John Hadfield, said it was something they wanted to do, as a tribute from Armidale to the late Pontiff, who was held in such high esteem by so many people in the city".

The bell-ringers will make another tribute with a peel of half-muffled bells ringing on tonight at 6:00 pm Australian time, when the Pope's funeral in Rome will start.

Armidale people will join with millions throughout the world who will watch the Pope's funeral on TV.

Alice Springs residents will be able to pay their respects to Pope John Paul II this evening at a special mass at the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart parish.

The ABC reports that the parish priest, Fr Healey, says many people in central Australia remember the Pope's visit to Alice Springs in 1986.

"The Aboriginal people are already planning to celebrate the 20th year, the 20th anniversary of the Pope's visit next year...they're doing it right from Canberra and so it's very fitting that we also here in Alice Springs commemorate the fact that he came by having a requiem mass for him at his death," he said.

St Mary's Cathedral to broadcast funeral of John Paul II (Archdiocese of Sydney 7/4/05)
Melbourne's Catholic Youth Pray for Pope (Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne 7/4/05)
NT: Indigenous Australians remember Pope (ABC Message Stick 8/4/05)
Armidale Mourns Pope John Paul II (John Farrell 7/4/05)
Religious classes move to school chapel (The Age 8/4/05)
G-G arrives in Rome for funeral (Daily Telegraph 8/4/05)
Room for Dame Silvia at Pope's funeral ( 6/4/05)
Mass for Pope on Saturday (Timiaru Herald/ 6/4/05)
Pell takes on the weight of history (The Australian 8/4/05)
Requiem Mass For Pope (Newstalk ZB 6/4/05)
Pope funeral live on TV ( Associated Press 7/4/05)
Vatican TV

8 Apr 2005