Thursday, September 24, 2015

Encountering Christ and Mary during the World Meeting of Families

Here is another guest post from Socorro Truchan, Associate Director of Domestic Church

Day #2 on the World Meeting of Families was a pilgrimage to the Miraculous Medal Shring. I lit a candle and remembered everyone's intentions there. 

And I got my tickets to the Festival of Families and Papal Mass this weekend. God is so good to me!

Day #3 of the ‪#‎WMOF‬. Looking forward to some more great speakers today. A Panamanian couple will present the plenary session on "A Gift from God: The Meaning of Human Sexuality" ... Also, Scott Hahn will be presenting "Back to the Garden of Eden: Unearthing God's Covenant with Humankind"

Day #4 of the WMOF in Philadelphia. Morning Mass was a spiritual experience like no other I've been privileged to celebrate... Our Lady of Guadalupe, Emperatriz de las Americas, led the way this time. As the priests processed up to the altar, it was almost like Mary was silently "pondering all this in her motherly heart." After Holy Communion, it seemed to me that the priests (Mary's sons) were themselves transformed by the Holy Sacrament, and looked (to me) to be "full of light", the Light of Christ .

What a Day! Midday Prayer & Mass of Canonization with Pope Francis

Greetings to all the Faithful of the Diocese of Kalamazoo from our Nation's Capital!

  Today's post is an attempt to summarize the incredible, joyful and exhausting day that we spent yesterday with our Holy Father, first at the celebration of Midday Prayer at St. Matthew Cathedral, and then at the Mass of Canonization of Father Junipero Serra at the National Shrine on the grounds of Catholic University. I simply don't understand how Pope Francis, who is an older man, is able to keep the pace that he does; the only possible explanation is the grace of the Holy Spirit!

 First of all, let me comment on the extremely tight security measures that are being taken here.Those who have seen many heads of state and world figures come to the United States before are saying that this level of security here for Pope Francis' visit is unprecedented. Even all the Bishops, before boarding the buses to take us to all the scheduled events held yesterday, had to go through individual security screening, similar to getting on an airplane: our bags were individually examined, and all of us were individually "wanded" to make sure we didn't have anything dangerous on our person. It was quite an experience. The presence of security personnel from every branch of security services were visible everywhere. And yet the mood of the crowds who lined the streets and who were placed in restricted zones at the sight events was celebratory, joyful and upbeat. While there were some "protest" signs here and there along the way, by far the mood was one of unity and solidarity.  
The view from my seat during Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral.

The view from my seat as Pope Francis arrived.

   At the celebration of Midday Prayer, Pope Francis spoke to the 300+ bishops gathered together with him as a "brother bishop" and as a "loving father". At one point he said to us "I speak to you as  Bishop of Rome---called by God in old age to watch over the unity of the Church and to encourage in charity the growth in faith and love in Christ."  Pope Francis is very mindful of his chronological age, but he is age-less when it comes to speaking with youthful enthusiasm about the mission of the Church and our important role as bishops---to lovingly shepherd our people, to be in constant dialogue with all people no matter what disagreements they may have so that we can always see them as persons and not be distracted by their positions that may differ from ours. And he urged us to remain pastors who have an intense and rich life of prayer---prayer in union with the Person of Christ. I had the great privilege of being able to be one of a small delegation of bishops to greet the Holy Father personally, and I took that occasion to pass on to him the good wishes and requests for prayers that many of you sent to me through our diocesan website as well as the promise of prayers on behalf of all the faithful and clergy of our Diocesan Church for him.  

   The canonization Mass was absolutely beautiful.  In less than two hours, and in a Mass celebrated mostly in Spanish, Pope Francis declared that Father Junipero Serra is now a Saint of the Church, "decreeing that he is to be venerated as such by the whole Church." It was a relatively simple, but very moving, rite held at the very beginning of the Mass. The remainder of the Mass was a wonderful celebration with 25,000 people gathered together on the grounds of Catholic University. The day was perfect----sunshine, breeze, and very comfortable in the outdoor setting.  Thanks be to God, all has gone very well for this first full day of the Pope's visit. 

   May our dear Blessed Mother and all the saints, especially St. Junipero Serra, continue to watch over the remainder of our Holy Father's visit today as he addresses the joint session of Congress, as he visits with the homeless at a shelter served by Catholic Charities and as he prepares to travel to New York City where he will begin his special two day visit there this evening.

  For me, I will be returning to Kalamazoo later today so that I can find ways to share the joy of this special encounter with Christ's Vicar on Earth with all of you.  In particular, I look forward to the Mass with Families from around the Diocese on Saturday morning at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Portage. 

  May God bless you and keep us all in His loving care.
  Faithfully yours in Christ,
   + Bishop Paul J. Bradley

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Opening Mass - World Meeting of Families

Guest writer, Associate Director of the Domestic Church, Socorro Truchan, is on the ground at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Opening Mass on Wednesday of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Privileged to be sitting with over 100 couples from my native country of Mexico. ‪#‎LoveisMIMission‬ ‪#‎Francisco‬ Dios es tan bueno conmigo! Celebrando la Santa Misa con parejas de matrimonios de México. ‪#‎Encuentromundialdefamilias‬

Last night, The beginning of the Mass celebration at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. And, to the left is the daughter of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. I'm happy to meet her in person. ‪#‎LoveisMIMission‬. ‪#‎WMOF2015‬‪#‎Francisco‬.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Anticipation! Pope Francis lands in the United States

Day 1 of Pope Francis' Pastoral Visit: "Share the Joy; Walk with Francis"

            As I was walking through the Lobby of the Hotel Marriott where all the Bishops from across the country are gathering for the next couple days, I heard a young mother tell one of her friends that her 10-year-old daughter told her this morning that waiting for Pope Francis' arrival was as exciting as waiting for Christmas morning!  I think there's a lot of truth to that statement, and not just for 10-year-olds; everyone here in Washington is excited and, as they say, "pumped" to know that in just a very brief time, Pope Francis' Pastoral Visit, which has the theme of "Share the Joy; Walk with Francis" is about to begin. 
            More and more Bishops are arriving, and they (including me) are very excited to very soon be with our Holy Father.  It's like a "homecoming" when a family would wait for their father to return home after being away for a while, except that for our Holy Father, this is his very first visit to the United States. 
        I have now officially registered with all the Bishops and received my official name tag and bus assignment for the various trips tomorrow from the hotel to St. Matthew Cathedral; then from there to the St. John Paul II Center for lunch; then to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the Canonization Mass; and then back to the Hotel for a nice dinner sponsored by the Knights of Malta.  We also received a beautiful bronze medallion (see photo below) 

as a keepsake of this historic occasion.  It depicts on the front an image of Pope Francis, along with the symbols of the three cities he will visit:  the Capital (Washington), the Statue of Liberty (New York City) and the Liberty Bell (Philadelphia) with the words:  "Visit of Pope Francis to the United States, September 21-27, 2015'; on the back side the images of all the American canonized Saints, including newly-canonized Father Junipero Serra, under the loving gaze of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, with the words of Pope Francis:  "I see the Church as a Field Hospital...Heal the Wounds".
      So the excitement is at fever pitch----the "hour" is at hand, very much like Christmas Eve----as we wait for our Holy Father to come here to be with us----and to help us to be renewed in the beautiful gift of our faith, and to help our country to be renewed in our constitutional principles, especially the foundational principle of the protection of religious liberty.  
            God bless and protect Pope Francis! 
            In Christ our Hope----
        + Bishop Paul Bradley

Monday, September 21, 2015

On the eve of the historic papal visit

[Following is a reflection from Bishop Bradley on Monday as he heads to Washington, DC]

Greetings from our Nation's Capital.

   It didn't take long for it to become crystal clear how widespread the enthusiasm and excitement about Pope Francis' impending visit is!  As soon as I began the checking in process at Detroit Metro Airport for my flight to Washington, one of the Delta attendants came right up to me to ask if I was going to see the Pope.  When I said that I was, she grabbed my hand, gasping with excitement, and asked me to pray for her while I was in the Holy Father's presence.  The next Delta representative had the very same reaction as she was helping me check my bag, and begged me to remember her special intentions, and those of her co-worker, over these days.  So, Kimberly and Maria, you are definitely in my prayers!
   When I arrived here in Washington, there are signs of final preparations being made everywhere as I made my way from Reagan International Airport to the Marriott where the majority of the U.S. Bishops will be staying.  And the Pope's visit is the top story on every TV channel.
   Even though I was here in Washington at this very same Hotel 7 years ago for the Papal Visit of Pope Benedict XVI, I have never seen this level of excitement and enthusiasm for any event before in my life.  While it is dreary and drizzling today, the weather forecast for the next several days is to be bright, sunny, warm and pleasant.  May God's blessings be upon Pope Francis as he concludes his pastoral visit in Cuba and prepares to travel here to Washington tomorrow afternoon.  May Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Patronness of our beloved country, watch over and protect all the historic and spiritual events of the next several days here in the United States.
   In Christ our Hope,
    + Bishop Bradley

A banner on the bell tower of The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception welcomes Pope Francis who will arrive on Tuesday, September 22 around 4 p.m. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Three days to touchdown: Getting ready to welcome Pope Francis

As the U.S. anticipates the first-ever visit of our Holy Father excitement is brewing as well in our diocese. Locally, Bishop Bradley has spoken with Brian Sterling, WOODTV 8 about the honor of being one of the bishops to officially welcome Pope Francis when he arrives in Washington, DC.

Please take a minute to send your own personal message by visiting our website: 

Bishop Bradley greets Pope Francis this past April during a pastoral visit to Rome.