Tuesday, October 6, 2015

U.S. Bishops Embrace Pope Francis' World Youth Day Invitation

By Paul Jarzembowki

On the heels of his apostolic visit to the United States, Pope Francis has issued an invitation to youth and young adults around the world to join him next year in Krakow, Poland, from July 26 to 31, 2016, for the thirty-first annual World Youth Day celebration.

“We eagerly anticipate the next great encounter with the universal Church,” said Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. “Having just celebrated with Pope Francis in Philadelphia the beauty of marriage and family life, World Youth Day is an opportunity to celebrate the gift of young people to the Church and to the world.”

During his early October visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, Kraków Cardinal Stansilaus Dziwisz invited all youth and young adults of North America to World Youth Day. Pictured below, Cardinal Dziwisz was greeted by a delegation of young people at a statue dedicated to Saint John Paul II, for whom he served as private secretary during his pontificate.

The cardinal said during his trip: "I take this opportunity of my visit to American soil to invite the young people of the United States and Canada to the 2016 World Youth Day in Kraków, the city of John Paul II, the place of Divine Mercy. Dear young friends: we want to share with you our place, our culture. But we also want you to share with us the enthusiasm of your faith. We are very much looking forward to these days..."

Over 10,000 young people and 60 bishops from the United States have already registered for World Youth Day, with many more expected in the months to come.

“The pilgrimage of World Youth Day, in the Jubilee of Mercy, will offer a personal invitation to every pilgrim to open the door of his or her heart ever more fully to the liberating, forgiving and healing power of Christ’s love. And when we are blessed with the gift of Mercy, we will also receive the courage to bring mercy to those around us,” said Most Rev. Frank Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport and USCCB World Youth Day Episcopal Liaison.

The statement issued by the Holy Father connects the World Youth Day experience with the Jubilee of Mercy, encouraging young people to reflect on the Scriptures (in particular the Beatitudes, Luke 15, Leviticus 5, and Matthew 25), the Cross, and the life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, whom the bishops of the United States have designated as one of the primary spiritual patrons of World Youth Day.

For each of the first seven months of 2016, Pope Francis asks young people to engage in at least one corporal and one spiritual work of mercy to prepare themselves for World Youth Day, praying for strength with St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska and joining in their prayer for Divine Mercy. He also speaks of the great power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a way to prepare for the journey.

Bishop Caggiano noted: “There is one story in the Pope’s message that I found deeply touching. It is when the Holy Father relates the story of going to confession at seventeen years of age and meeting a priest who inspired him. The Pope speaks of feeling a desire to open his heart to confession. It is the image of opening our hearts to Christ that best summarizes the Jubilee of Mercy and the World Youth Day celebration in Krakow. The Lord is standing at the door of our hearts, knocking gently with His love, asking to come in and heal what is broken, hurt, angry or confused in our lives.”

The USCCB continues to develop resources and spiritual tools to assist pilgrims and leaders in their journeys towards World Youth Day, which can be found online at www.wydusa.org.

In an effort to ensure no young person is excluded from this journey, the USCCB has also issued guides for parishes to gather youth and young adults who are unable to travel to Krakow next summer. Details of these resources will also be shared on Twitter and Facebook.


Paul Jarzembowski serves as the national coordinator for World Youth Day USA and is the assistant director for youth and young adult ministries in the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth at the USCCB.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Witness for Peace: A Meditation on the Multi-Religious Gathering with Pope Francis

By John W. Crossin, OSFS

My experience of the Multi-Religious Gathering, from my arrival in New York City on Wednesday morning until the close of the Gathering on Friday, was an experience of healing. I felt the presence of the healing Spirit from beginning to end.

Healing is a process that has many steps. Sometimes they are surprising to me. As I came to the Memorial on Wednesday I ran into a friendly security official who led me through to the Museum and showed me highlights. He told me that he knew many of the first responders who had died. It took him years to come to the site. I felt that he still had ‘his moments.’

On the next day on the way to the rehearsal, I happened to meet a woman whose family member had died on 9/11. She finally came across the country to grieve at the site. Perhaps this unexpected encounter was one of the ‘accidents’ of the Spirit. As we both left I promised her my prayers.

A chaplain was with her. He happened to be present at the World Trade Center on September 11th. Now he accompanies survivors and families as part of his ministry. We shared how the Spirit sometimes calls us to ministries unexpectedly.

On Friday after the Gathering with Pope Francis, I talked to a New York area priest I know who had witnessed many of the September 11th events directly. When he received his invitation to the Gathering, he decided it was time to enter the healing process more deeply by finally visiting the Memorial. He came Friday morning to encounter the past and thus become more open to the future.

Healing can be individual and communal. When I entered Foundation Hall, members of the varied communities gathered were conversing together with animation. They were renewing the relationships that are key to interreligious understanding and peacebuilding. I saw a number of my own dialogue partners in the crowd.

What I did not expect was the quiet. The whole group became subdued as the time of Pope Francis arrival drew near. This group of religious leaders became almost silent. Later in the program silence returned as Pope Francis invited each to pray in his or her own way. I found the Spirit in the conversation and in the silence. My own memories became more tranquil.

The healing of communal and individual memories is a significant Witness for Peace. I believe that this Multi-Religious Gathering provided all of us, wherever we are, an opportunity to recommit personally to being agents for peace.


 Father John W. Crossin is an Oblate of St. Francis DeSales and executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Live Stream: Encyclical on Ecology at National Press Club

On Sept. 16 at 1:30 p.m. EDT, three prominent Catholic leaders will highlight the activities of the Catholic Church in the United States in response to Pope Francis’s groundbreaking encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, which connects our care for creation to our care for one another.

Archbishop Wenski, Bishop Cantú, and Dr. Woo will speak to respect for life, care for immigrants, climate change, and poverty, among other issues. The Catholic leaders will discuss the work of the USCCB and CRS in advocating for the poor and vulnerable of all communities with elected leaders as Congress prepares to receive the pope September 24.

Watch live:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Sept. 15

1. Pope Francis has appointed Bishop James V. Johnston, 55, bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri. Bishop Johnston has served as bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, since 2008.

2. In one week, Pope Francis will land in the United States. Get all official information for the visit at uspapalvisit.org and make sure you're following @PopeInUS on Twitter and Instagram. Spanish Twitter is available at @PapaEnUSA.

3. People discover their worth when they discover their true identity as created in God’s image and called to an eternal destiny with him, said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the USCCB in the annual Respect Life Month statement. Catholics and all people of good will in the United States are invited to participate in Respect Life Month.

4. Did you know that Pope Francis' visit to Cuba and the U.S. will be his longest of his pontificate so far?

5. God loves you.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Sept. 11

1. Pope Francis’ September 22-27 visit to the United States will be available via a video livestream at www.usccb.org/live, where people from around the world can follow every moment of the visit. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is also launching social media profiles on Twitter and Instagram, “Pope In US” and “Papa En USA.” An animated gif of themes associated with the papal visit accompanied the launch of these channels.

2. We remember 9/11 today.

A Prayer of Peace
A prayer of peace on this day of remembrance from Frances Xavier Warde School. #NeverForget
Posted by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Friday, September 11, 2015

3. Catholics in the United States, as well as all people of good will, should express openness and welcome to refugees fleeing Syria and elsewhere in order to survive, said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a statement, September 10. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, issued the call on the heels of Pope Francis’ appeal, September 6, that every Catholic parish in Europe house a refugee family.

4. Learn more about Pope Francis' drive through Washington Sept. 23.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Five Things To Remember On Sept. 2

1. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responded September 1 to Pope Francis’ letter allowing all priests worldwide "to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it."

2. To find the nearest diocesan, post-abortive healing ministry, go to the ‘Find Help’ map at www.hopeafterabortion.com or www.esperanzaposaborto.com.

3. During his General Audience today, Pope Francis said , "Where there is a family with love, that family is able to warm the heart of an entire city with itswitness of love."

4. Don't forget that all official details for the papal visit can be found at uspapalvisit.org.

5. God loves you.