Dear OSJ Family,

Well it happened! We all survived Pope Mania and the world now knows what a first class city Philadelphia really is! Our city and our Church shined! No one can argue that. More importantly, Pope Francis succeeded in his mission of evangelizing our nation and he helped to enliven and reinvigorate the faith of so many here in Philly, in NYC, in DC and throughout our country and the worldwide Church! So many commented that the Holy Father’s visit and the World Meeting of Families was one of the best religious experiences of their lives. I would have to agree!

Pope Francis, our  first Jesuit pope, in his characteristically humble and sincere way,  gave our nation a true Jesuit education this past week, that is, one marked by deep faith and genuine service of others, especially those most in need. In one US visit he promoted immigration reform, greater efforts for social justice, respect of all peoples, care for the environment, religious liberty, and the defense of human life! Without a doubt the energy that he generated was electric and the Holy Spirit told the world who was really in charge, not our great Pope, but God! Francis served as a great conduit for God.  And undoubtedly Francis helped to remind us that it is not himself, but Jesus that is to be imitated and that it is the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST that ought to guide our thoughts and deeds! It is Jesus who inspires Francis to drive a Fiat 500 and not a limousine, it is Jesus that inspires him to live in a guest house and not a palace, it is Jesus that inspires him to dine with the homeless and not the powerful, it is Jesus that inspires him to reject some of the trappings of his office for simpler and more austere things, for Francis it is always about Jesus! I suppose that is why he is the single most respected person on our planet. And finally here is something to think about as we reflect on the papal visit……

In 1733 our beloved Old Saint Josephs was the only Catholic Church in the entire English-speaking world where Mass was allowed to be publicly celebrated because of discrimination and hatred toward Catholics. For decades in the USA, Catholics were pushed to the periphery and ignored.  Last week the Holy Father, the first pope to ever do so, spoke to a joint session of Congress! We Catholics have come a long way in our own land in overcoming discrimination. Let us continue to support all efforts to end every form of hatred and discrimination and work to build bridges between all peoples here and abroad. Thank you Pope Francis! God bless our Catholic Church and God Bless the USA!

© 2015 Fr. Philip Florio, S.J.