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A special Mass in memory of Pope John Paul II -- meant to coincide exactly with the time of his funeral in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City -- will be celebrated at 4 a.m. Friday in Corpus Christi Church, 199 Clark St.

The Mass will be offered by the Pauline Priests, who have taken over leadership of the towering church on the city's East Side. The public is invited to attend.

The Mass begins at such an early hour due to the six-hour time difference between Buffalo and Rome.

The pope, a native of Poland, had a devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa, an icon located at the hill of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, Poland, and visited it three times. The Pauline Priests have been charged with caring for the icon -- which has been credited with many miracles -- and the shrine that has housed it since the 14th century.

Meanwhile, Wood Funeral Home, 784 Main St., East Aurora, has set up a memorial wall in honor of the pope and is inviting the public to visit it and sign a memorial book that will be sent to the Vatican.

People also are welcome to bring flowers, memorabilia, candles, or photos to the wall, said Thomas Wood, manager of the funeral home.

Hilbert College in Hamburg has canceled classes Friday in honor of the pope. But campus offices will remain open Friday for regularly scheduled business hours. All parochial schools in the Diocese of Buffalo also are closed Friday for the pope's funeral.

Also, all offices of Catholic Charities throughout Western New York will be closed on Friday to observe the official day of mourning for the pope, as declared by Bishop Edward U. Kmiec.

The lone exceptions are Guardian Angel and Holy Innocents child care centers and Catholic Charities Senior Day Care.

"In deference to parents and caregivers who have already scheduled to use our day care services, those facilities will remain open on Friday," said Dennis C. Walczyk, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities.


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