Palm Sunday Events

April 17, 2011 Updated Apr 17, 2011 at 11:30 PM EDT

By Lou Chilelli

April 17, 2011 Updated Apr 17, 2011 at 11:30 PM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) -- Christians throughout the world attended Palm Sunday services today. Here in our area...the faithful gathered to mark the start of Holy Week and to look ahead to another import event taking place next month.

The Sunday evening service at our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, brought out hundreds of Catholics for Palm Sunday Mass. The service commemorates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The palm branches distributed during the service...represent small tree branches people laid in his path.

At the Montante Cultural Center at Canisius College...a screening of a new documentary about Pope John Paul II was showcased. "Nine Days that Changed the World" looks at the impact that the Pope's 1979 visit to Poland had on that country's freedom movement.

"That was the triggering event, the seminal event that really started the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe. That triggered the solidarity movement, the free trade movement in Poland...which was in 1980...and finally the collapse of the communist government," said Mary Lou Wyrobek, a professor at the college.

The beatification of John Paul II will take place next month. It's one of the last steps before sainthood. "We wanted to do something in celebration of the beatification and so we thought this was an appropriate movie to show," Wyrobek added.

As a high school student, Laurie Derby got a chance to see the Pope in New York City in 1979. "I felt the power, the presence of the holy spirit in that man. I knew from the beginning that he was the prophet. His message of peace and his genuineness...his strength of spirit and the concept of being not afraid, because he was not afraid," Derby said.

The beatification will take place on may first. Churches through out the area have many events planned to commemorate the event.