FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI—leader of the Roman Catholic from 2005 to 2013—passed away Saturday. As the preparations for his funeral continue in Vatican City, over 5,000 miles away Catholics in Northeast Wisconsin remember the pope's legacy.
"Even though he was very smart, very articulate, he was always able to articulate it so that he could explain in such a simple way that was able to reach each and every person," Fr. Justin Weber, an associate pastor at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Fond du Lac, said.
Catholics like Mary Wittkopp said they've been honoring the pope through prayer.
"We celebrate, we went to Saturday morning mass, he prayed for him," Wittkopp said. "And so it was nice. I felt like we honored him."
Weber said the church has a course of action for when its leader passes away.
"I guess there’s a standard practice, for when the pope dies," Weber said. "Even in our prayer books in where we celebrate mass from it tells us these different options, like, here's a prayer to pray when a pope dies."
Benedict made history by breaking 600 years of precedent and resigning as pope in 2013, after eight years in the papacy.
"I thought it was very profound the way that he thought, he knew, that he needed to do that, that that was the right thing for him to do," Wittkopp said. "And I think it ultimately worked out fine."
Weber said this could lead to some unknowns pertaining to his funeral on Thursday.
"It will be unique to have the reigning pontiff presiding over the funeral of a pontiff," Weber said. "So, that's something that we're all anxiously waiting to see what will happen."
Until then, Catholic churches around the world are planning to honor Benedict.
"After many of our masses, we toll our bells just as we do for funerals," Weber said. "And I know many of us here at Holy Family, we continue to pray for him."