HELENA — Pope Benedict XVI passed away on December 31, Father Bart Tolleson of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena followed Benedict when he was actively Pope and shared what Benedict XVI meant to the religion.
At the age of 95, within the walls of the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI passed away just before the New Year began. Benedict XVI was selected as pope in 2005 but stepped down in 2013 due to health concerns. The first pope to do so in almost 600 years.
Father Bart Tolleson has been a member of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena for years, and Tolleson says Pope Benedict XVI was a critical leader of the religion.
"Pope Benedict was just an amazing scholar. He brought the scriptures to life. He brought so many saints to life in his writings and his thinking and really brought so much ideas, so many ideas in the church to life for me. So it was a very much of a life faith, a joyful faith, a faith that wasn't just stuck in books, but really was lived in the heart," said Tolleson.
Benedict XVI inspired many priests, and Tolleson reflected on Benedict's legacy ahead of the funeral.
"I think he leaves us a great legacy in his writings, in his thinking. I think also a just a real love for the faith, a real love for Jesus Christ, not only as a kind of an idea but as a person," said Tolleson.
Tolleson adds that Benedict XVI's writing will be continued to be studied long after his death.
"His writings, his thought will be studied in seminaries for centuries to come. I have no doubt," said Tolleson.
Both the daily masses at St. Helena Cathedral on Thursday will celebrate a memorial for Pope Benedict XVI.
The current pope, Francis, will oversee Benedict's funeral in St. Peters Square on Thursday.