(Photo: Franco Origlia, Getty Images)
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Catholics in West Michigan gathered Thursday to honor the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. At St. Andrews Cathedral in Grand Rapids, there was a Mass of Thanksgiving.
Bishop Walter Hurley led the special mass. He says it's only appropriate to recognize Pope Benedict's dedication to the church. At 85-years old, he's the first supreme pontiff to resign in 600 years.
"We're here to give thanks because he has given it his all. He came to service as a young man and carried out that service faithful," says Hurley. He says Pope Benedict was a bit more reclusive than his predecessors, but was successful in getting young people into the church.
Young parishioners like Brendan Cooper, say they hope the new pope will continue that mission. "I think once we get more people at a young age, we'll continue to grow," says Cooper.
In the Diocese of Grand Rapids, the number of students in the priesthood has also grown from eight to 22.
Bishop Hurley hopes the new pope will find new ways to spread the gospel. But, he doesn't expect major changes. "That there will be married clergy someday, I wouldn't count on that."
"No, it seems like we're set in our ways. It will stay the same," says Cooper.
In the coming days, a successor will be chosen from the ranks. The hope in West Michigan is that it will be someone charismatic, who is a good leader and teacher, and someone who can work in harmony for the good of the church.