This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website, the Delaware County Daily Times‘ website, The Mercury‘s website, The Times Herald‘s website, The Reporter‘s website, The Trentonian‘s website, The Phoenix‘s website, the Southern Chester County Weeklies‘ website and the Berks-Mont News‘ website.
PHILADELPHIA — The largest cathedral in Pennsylvania was certainly the right setting for Pope Francis on Saturday morning.
The Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul was filled to capacity as the pope celebrated his first Mass after landing in Philadelphia.
First though, he was greeted by a children’s choir on the front steps of the cathedral.
In attendance for the Mass were Gov. Tom Wolf, former Gov. Tom Corbett and representatives from the 219 parishes of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“I look forward to being with you in these days, and I ask you to bring my affectionate greetings to those who could not be with us, especially the many elderly priests and religious who join us in spirit,” Pope Francis said during his homily.
…[Please continue the story on the Daily Local News website by clicking here.]
The pope drew on the history of the cathedral and the archdiocese in his homily, which he delivered in Spanish, his native language.
“I would like to think, though, that the history of the church in this city and state is really a story not about building walls, but about breaking them down,” Pope Francis said. “It is a story about generation after generation of committed Catholics going out to the peripheries and building communities of worship, education, charity and service to the larger society. That story is seen in the many shrines which dot this city and the many parish churches whose towers and steeples speak of God’s presence in the midst of our communities.”
The pope also spoke about St. Katharine Drexel, who was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She dedicated her life to God and to service the Native Americans and African Americans in the United States after a meeting with Pope Leo XIII, who asked her to become a missionary.
“When she spoke to Pope Leo XIII of the needs of the missions, the pope — he was a very wise pope — asked her pointedly, ‘What about you?’” Pope Francis said. “Those words changed Katharine’s life because they reminded her that, in the end, 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.”
The pope put a focus on women and how they should get more recognition.
“Our challenge today is to build on those solid foundations and to foster a sense of collaboration and shared responsibility in planning for the future of our parishes and institutions,” he said. “This does not mean relinquishing the spiritual authority with which we have been entrusted. Rather, it means discerning and employing wisely the manifold gifts which the Spirit pours out upon the church.
“In a particular way, it means valuing the immense contribution which women, lay and religious, have made, and continue to make, to the life of our communities.”
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput thanked Pope Francis for coming to Philadelphia and they exchanged gifts.
“This is a city that would change its name to Francisville if it could,” Chaput said to a round of laughter.
Suann Malone Maier, who was in attendance in the Basilica, was thrilled at the opportunity to see Pope Francis again. She had met him in Rome this last November.
“He had my hand and laughed the whole time,” Malone Maier said.
Though she didn’t get as close this time around in the cathedral, she was still thrilled at the chance to attend his Mass.
“It was fabulous,” she said. “He’s phenomenal and is very accessible and joyful.”
It was worthwhile for Malone Maier to be at the Mass, especially after such a long wait on a bus Saturday morning.
“We were in the hotel where the bishops were, so we sat on a bus when I could have run there in about 13 seconds,” she said. “We sat on the bus for an hour and a half.”
After all the long build-up, security measures and press conferences, people were excited to have Pope Francis finally in the city for his two-day visit at the World Meeting of Families.
“We’ve been waiting for this for three years,” Maier said. “Philadelphia has been waiting to welcome Pope Francis. It was spectacular.”