DUMFRIES, Virginia (WUSA9)--When Pope John Paul II is named a Saint on Sunday, the students and faculty at Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries will be watching. The school is the only institution in the Arlington Diocese named after the soon-to-be-saint.
Most of the students at the school are too young to remember Pope John Paul II. However, the Canonization is an opportunity for these teens to know him better and reflect on his influence on the world.
"I love how he loved the youth," says 18-year-old senior, Matilda Donovan. "I also love how he had so much charisma. People were drawn to him."
"Instead of sitting back on a throne, which he could have done, he went out to the people," says Jack Shofi, also a senior at the school. "He preached and talked and went not only to Catholics but others."
The Class of 2014 began high school here the same year Pope John Paul II was beatified, the step right before sainthood. And they will be graduating within weeks of his Canonization.
"It is so exciting," says Donovan. "Because Pope John Paul the Great is a member of our family. And he is being officially named as being in heaven. And that is what you want for your family."
One way the faculty gets their students to know more about Pope John Paul II is through all the interests he had, says Jennifer Cole who is the Director of Admissions and Marketing at the school. "So he was a playwright and an actor before he became a priest. And after he became a priest he did some of that so we celebrate John Paul the actor. Our kids will get to know John Paul the Witness to Christ through our religion classes and through prayer, including living prayer. Our acting class dressed up and did Stations of the Cross. We are trying to reach our students in a way that is meaningful to them."
"He had a saying don't be afraid. Be not afraid," explains Shofi. "That's helped me tremendously. Especially in senior year. I think most of the senior class we act like we are done with high school. Yet we are also scared for the next step."
"John Paul II was definitely a saint of our age," says Donovan. "He is a beacon of hope in this time when there is so much concern about all these new things going on.