MU response elicits varied criticism

In the week following the death of Pope John Paul II, members of the Marquette community are expressing mixed reactions to the university's response to his death.

Some students said they are happy with the amount of remembrance on display at Marquette — such as a memorial e-mail sent Saturday afternoon and a Web page linked to the university's Web site.

"I think they did a pretty good job," said Michael Bergemann, a sophomore in the College of Engineering.

"I think they've done a lot," said Paula Elizondo, a freshman in the College of Business Administration. "I think it's a good amount of (remembrance)."

But others commented on the lack of any conspicuous displays of remembrance and wondered why scheduling a university memorial liturgy, which will take place Thursday, took so long.

"I haven't really noticed a lot of things on campus, and a lot of students have been talking about it," said Jordan Korabic, a sophomore in the College of Communication.

University officials are quick to point out they are working hard to memorialize the pontiff and will continue to do so in the coming days.

"I think the university is doing a good job with respect to memorializing the pope, and I wouldn't say that job was complete," said Stephanie Russell, executive director of University Mission and Identity. Russell said photos of the pope are set to go up in campus locations such as the Raynor Library. The Varsity Theater marquee offers a remembrance of the Pope, and prayer cards with the pope's picture and a prayer for him are being printed and will be distributed shortly before Thursday's service.

As for the service, "It was important to us to schedule the liturgy proximate to the mass in Rome," Russell said. "It also allows people to work (the service) into their schedules."

"We are trying to plan it, rather than just do anything," said Gerry Fischer, assistant director of University Ministry, which is organizing the liturgy. "We want to put a little thought into it."

"It takes time to gather our thoughts and prepare ourselves," Fischer said. "I know that our office is taking great care into making a good celebration of his life and to allow people to experience their feelings of loss and mourning."

Fischer also pointed out that University Ministry had a portrait of the pope and a candle in front of the Chapel of the Holy Family in the Alumni Memorial Union ever since he became ill.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on April 7 2005.