Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul in Philadelphia

pope_basillica_51At his first appearance in Philadelphia at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Francis celebrated mass for the men and women religious of the archdiocese of Philadelphia. Francis paid tribute to the many generations of Catholics who have faithfully been committed to the local church here. He used the example of Philadelphian St. Katherine Drexel and Pope Leo XIII’s question to her: “What about you?” to reflect on the Church’s mission—and all of our mission—to work together and respond to the needs and challenges in our world today. It was a call for the religious to reflect upon their own vocations and not lose sight of their primary task, which is to engage with the laity and to do so with joy. In particular, he called for greater care for those preparing for marriage and young people.

Some key quotes from the homily follow:

“Every Christian man and woman, by virtue of baptism, has received a mission. Each one of us has to respond, as best we can, to the Lord’s call to build up his Body, the Church.”

“How many young people in our parishes and schools have the same high ideals, generosity of spirit, and love for Christ and the Church! Do we challenge them? Do we make space for them and help them to do their part? To find ways of sharing their enthusiasm and gifts with our communities, above all in works of mercy and concern for others? Do we share our own joy and enthusiasm in serving the Lord?”

“One of the great challenges facing the Church in this generation is to foster in all the faithful a sense of personal responsibility for the Church’s mission, and to enable them to fulfill that responsibility as missionary disciples, as a leaven of the Gospel in our world. This will require creativity in adapting to changed situations, carrying forward the legacy of the past not primarily by maintaining our structures and institutions, which have served us well, but above all by being open to the possibilities which the Spirit opens up to us and communicating the joy of the Gospel, daily and in every season of our life.”

“I encourage you to be renewed in the joy of that first encounter with Jesus and to draw from that joy renewed fidelity and strength.”

Click here for the full text of the homily.

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