First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, after Father Oscar Huber gave her assassinated husband the Last Rites of the Catholic Church in an emergency room at Parkland Memorial Hospital 50 years ago, had one final request for John F. Kennedy:
"Please pray for the president," Jacqueline Kennedy asked Huber, who agreed to do so.
Half a century later, more than 100 people honored her wishes Friday. They came to the Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville to join Catholics around the world to again pray in a Holy Mass for the repose of the soul of John F. Kennedy.
Monsignor John Myler recited Huber's one-page recount about giving Kennedy the last rites as one gray-haired lady put her hand over her mouth in a rush over emotion and another dabbed tears from the corners of her eyes with a tissue.
While it was important to remember JFK, Myler said it was equally important for "the hundreds, the thousands, the millions of people around the world praying for the president" to be united spiritually.
While they still felt the shock and the hurt of losing the vibrant, young Kennedy, some of the people in attendance old enough to remember the late president said they thought they owed it to him to fulfill his widow's wish because of all he did for the country.
"He was a great president," Belleville resident Theresa Yung, 80 of Belleville, said. "I think it is very good that we're doing this here at the cathedral today."
Dolores Hogan, 80 of Belleville, said she still remembered the shock of 50 years ago when the news of the assassination was broadcast as she did house chores with two small children in the house.
"It's important to me to be here," Hogan said. "When he was taken from us, he was so young."
Belleville auctioneer Rick Kohl, was 9 years old and in third grade at Cathedral School on Nov. 22, 1963. He said that moment of his life affected him so deeply that he took Friday off and went to his grade school where he asked the principal if he could go back to the classroom where he was 50 years ago when he learned about Kennedy's death. After spending a moment there, he went to the Mass.
"I just wanted to take the day to remember and to reminisce," Kohl said. It was important to me to be here today."
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2626.