HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the waning hours of his pontificate, Hawaii Catholics gathered at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral to give thanks for Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop Larry Silva led the mass of thanksgiving, joined by other priests from the diocese. They celebrated the mass beneath a banner of the pope.
Earlier in the day, Benedict made his final public appearance as pope in front of a gathering of thousands at St. Peter's Square. "I will continue to accompany the church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new pope," the Pontiff said.
That's what Hawaii parishioners did Wednesday night.
The bishop noted that Benedict created two saints from Hawaii during his time as pope. "We will always be grateful to Benedict XVI for opening the door to the beatification and the canonization of Mother Marianne Cope, and to the canonization of Father Damien," he said.
The faithful were drawn to the historic occasion to pray, and to look at Benedict's pontificate and his departure.
"I had heard stories about how stern he was and everything, but that didn't come across at all in his pontificate, so I'm really impressed and quite pleased," said Armand Thibodeau, who was visiting from Canada.
"I'm sure he's got good reasons and I'll be curious to see how it all unfolds in the next few weeks," said Claudette Thibodeau.
Benedict's resignation means there will be a new pope, one who will be chosen among the 115 cardinal electors next month. Bishop Silva and island priests are looking ahead to the next successor of St. Peter.
"Whoever that new shepherd will be, (he) would still have the doors of the church open, be very welcome, compassionate, forgiving, understanding, all the key elements of a pastor," said Father Lane Akiona of St. Augustine Church.
But for now, Catholics marked the end of Benedict's pontificate. "I really believe that God was calling him to do that, and so I really trust that what he's doing is the right thing for the church," said Armand Thibodeau.