WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY AT THE HEART OF ECUMENISM – PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR TERRORIST ATTACK IN BOGOTA

Here is an interesting post on the 10 most Catholic countries in the world – photos and some stats – enjoy! https://aleteia.org/2019/01/18/the-top-10-most-catholic-countries-in-the-world/?utm_campaign=NL_en&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_en

WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY AT THE HEART OF ECUMENISM

Pope Francis and other Christian leaders on Friday inaugurate the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with the celebration of evening Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

The joint celebration that kicks off the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a powerful symbol of unity and of the recognition that Christian denominations are on the path to unity and getting closer in doctrine.

The Week of Prayer, traditionally observed from January 18 to 25, unfolds this year on the theme “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue” inspired by Deuteronomy.

Pope Francis looked ahead to the Week of Prayer during the Wednesday general audience, saying that, “Again, this year we are called to pray so that all Christians may once again be a single family, according to God’s will ‘so that they may all be one’.”

He pointed out that “ecumenism is not something optional” and said it aims “to develop a common and consistent witness that promotes true justice and support for the weakest through responses that are concrete, appropriate and effective”

Participating in Vespers at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls are also many faith-based groups that have made ecumenism an important part of their mission. Amongst them, the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, with 29 students from across the Christian spectrum and from across the globe.

Daniel Reffner, a United Methodist candidate for the ordained ministry from the United States, speaks to Linda Bordoni about his experience studying ecumenism at Bossey and about how it has changed his perspective:

To both read and listen to that interview, click here:
https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2019-01/week-prayer-christian-unity-bossey-daniel-reffner.html

PAPAL CONDOLENCES FOR TERRORIST ATTACK IN BOGOTA

In a telegram sent on his behalf by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez, Archbishop emeritus of Bogotá, Pope Francis has sent his condolences for the victims of the terrorist attack that occurred yesterday:

“In the face of the news of the cruel terrorist attack that has sown pain and death in the city of Bogotá, Pope Francis expresses his deepest sorrow for the victims who have lost their lives in an inhuman action, and he offers prayers for the eternal repose of their souls. In these moments of great emotion and sadness, he wants to also send his support and closeness to the numerous wounded, to the families and to all of Colombian society.

“The Holy Father once again condemns blind violence, which is a serious offense to the Creator, and raises his prayers to the Lord that He may help people to persevere in building harmony and peace in that country and in the whole world.

“With these wishes, His Holiness invokes on all the victims, their families and the beloved people of Colombia, the Apostolic Blessing.”

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ANOTHER VATICAN TREASURE: OUR SORROWFUL LADY CHURCH

ANOTHER VATICAN TREASURE: OUR SORROWFUL LADY CHURCH

Yesterday afternoon some members of D.VA – Donne in Vaticano (Women in the Vatican) – met for Mass in the Church of Our Sorrowful Lady that is part of the Vatican’s Teutonic Cemetery. Our spiritual advisor, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, former head of Vatican Radio, Vatican Television and the Holy See Press Office, celebrated Mass.

Earlier in the morning, Pope Francis had named Fr. Lombardi as the moderator for the February 21-24 meeting in the Vatican of the heads of the world’s Episcopal conferences to discuss the clerical abuse scandal.

The pictorial sides of the main altar by Macrino d’Alba show the theme of the Pietà at the centre and sides – from left to right Saint Paul with Saint John the Baptist, Saint Anne with Mary, Jesus and the apostles Peter and James. The stone slab at the front part of the main altar is a typical example of a late archaic medieval style and most likely was originally part of an altar barrier.

Our Sorrowful Lady –

I have been to this church a number of times, occasionally just as part of a visit to this beautiful and historic cemetery, a few times for Mass and two years ago when I attended an ecumenical Christmas concert here in support of Christian refugees from Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. The guest of honor was Eliyo, the professional name of Sarah Ego, a Syrian Orthodox singer who was born in Augsburg, Germany. Sarah sang traditional German Christian chorals as well as several songs in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and the Apostles, Schubert’s Ave Maria in Latin and several Christmas carols in English.

Photos from that night in the Teutonic cemetery

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The Teutonic Cemetery is found in the Vatican between St. Peter’s Basilica and the Paul VI Audience Hall. It is the oldest German establishment in Rome. The entire area is surrounded by a high wall and does not immediately draw one’s attention. However, even a rushed visitor will quickly be drawn by the charm of this plot of land so rich in history. In ancient Roman times Nero’s circus was found here and it was the site where many Christians were martyred. In 799 a Schola Francorum was spoken of for the first time. For this reason, on the wall of the building there is a ceramic depiction of Charlemagne as the founder. A clearer idea of its history came only in the mid-15th century when the Holy Year 1450 brought many pilgrims to Rome.

The cemetery and the church were in bad shape at that time, but both were soon rebuilt. In 1454 the German members of the Curia gathered together as a special as a confraternity that still exists today in a different form and is owner of the foundation.

In the last quarter of the 15th century the current structure of the church was built according to a style widely used in Germany at the time. In 1597 the confraternity was promoted to the “Archconfraternity of Our Lady” at the German Cemetery next to St. Peter’s. In 1876 a residence was built for priests studying Christian archaeology, church history and other similar fields. In 1888 the Roman Institute of the Goerres Society took up residence there with a library of around 35,000 books.

I try when possible to accompany friends to this beautiful final resting place.

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Access to the church is by way of the cemetery and was completely renovated in restoration work from 1972-1975. The entryway was designed by Elmar Hillebrand (Cologne, Germany) and donated in 1957 by the President of the Republic of Germany Theodor Heuss. On the left door is a Madonna and Child underneath the Archconfraternity’s coat of arms, a mix of a two-headed eagle with the Pietà. The Resurrection is depicted on the right side.

The Swiss Chapel served as a burial place for the fallen guards after the Sack of Rome. The frescoed walls were painted by Polidor Caldara, a disciple of Raffaello, and are of very high quality. This is curtently being renovated

Given its special location, the Teutonic Cemetery has always received many requests for burial. According to the statutes, those who have a right to be buried here include members of the Archconfraternity, members of many religious houses of German origin and members of the two German colleges in Rome (the Anima and the Germanico). Prayer is open to all although visitors most often come to find the graves of famous people of ecclesiastical, artistic, political or diplomatic backgrounds:

Josef Anton Koch, landscape painter (+ 1839)
Ludwig Curtius, archaeologist (+ 1954)
Johann Baptist Anzer, first missionary bishop of the Divine Word Missionaries (+ 1903)
Joseph Spithöver, key promoter of German culture in Rome during the 19th century (+ 1870)
Stefan Andrei, writer (+ 1970)
Johann Martin von Wagner, archaeologist and artist (+ 1858)
Anton de Waal, first rector of the College (+ 1917)
Engelbert Kirschbaum, S.J., Archaeologist, key colleague in the discovery of Peter’s tomb (+ 1970)
Card. Gustavo von Hohenlohe (+ 1896)
Augustin Theiner, Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives (+ 1874).
(source: http://www.vaticanstate.va/content/vaticanstate/en/altre-istituzioni/campo-santo-teutonico.html)

“ECUMENISM IS NOT OPTIONAL”

“ECUMENISM IS NOT OPTIONAL”

At the end of today’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis appealed for prayers for the upcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

“Next Friday,” he began, “with the celebration of Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins on the theme: “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue,” inspired by Deuteronomy 16:18-20. This year too we are called to pray that all Christians return to be one family, coherent with the divine will that wishes “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21). Ecumenism is not optional. The intention will be to develop a common and consistent witness in the affirmation of true justice and in the support of the weakest, through concrete, appropriate and effective responses.

Almost seven years ago to the day, at the January 18, 2012 general audience, Pope Benedict explained the history of this annual week of prayer:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins today. For more than a century it has been celebrated every year by Christians of all Churches and ecclesial communities in order to invoke the extraordinary gift for which the Lord Jesus himself prayed at the Last Supper, before his Passion: “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17:21).

“The practice of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was introduced in 1908 by Fr. Paul Wattson, the founder of an Anglican religious community who later entered the Catholic Church. The initiative received the blessing of Pope St. Pius X and was later promoted by Pope Benedict XV, who encouraged its celebration throughout the Catholic Church with the Brief Romanorum Pontificum of 25 February 1916.

“The Octave of Prayer was developed and perfected in the 1930s by Abbé Paul Couturier of Lyons, who supported the prayer “for the unity of the Church as Christ wants her and in conformity with the instruments that he desires”. His last writings show that Abbé Couturier saw this Week as a means which enables Christ’s universal prayer “to enter and penetrate the entire Body of Christians”; it must grow until it becomes “an immense, unanimous cry of the entire People of God”, asking God for this great gift. Moreover the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is in itself one of the most effective expressions of the impetus the Second Vatican Council gave to the search for full communion among all Christ’s disciples.

“May this spiritual event that unites Christians of all traditions increase our awareness that the true unity for which we strive cannot be solely the result of our own efforts but, rather, will be a gift from on high, to be ceaselessly prayed for.

“Every year the booklets for the Week of Prayer are compiled by an ecumenical group from a different region of the world. …”

HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE ON FEBRUARY MEETING TO PROTECT MINORS – PAPAL CATECHESIS ON THE LORD’S PRAYER

HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE ON FEBRUARY MEETING TO PROTECT MINORS

The Holy See Press Office released the following communique this morning:

“The organizing committee of the meeting for the protection of minors in the Church, to be held in the Vatican February 21-24, 2019 in the New Synod Hall, met in Rome on Thursday, January 10. At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father received in audience the members of the committee who proceeded to update him on the preparation of the meeting. It includes plenary sessions, working groups, common prayer moments with listening to testimonies, a penitential liturgy and a final Eucharistic celebration. Pope Francis assured his presence for the entire duration of the meeting.

“The Holy Father entrusted Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. with the task of moderating the plenary sessions of the meeting.”

The ad interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, issued the following statement about that communiqué:

“The February Meeting on the protection of minors has a concrete purpose: the goal is that all of the Bishops clearly understand what they need to do to prevent and combat the worldwide problem of the sexual abuse of minors. Pope Francis knows that a global problem can only be resolved with a global response. The Pope wants it to be an assembly of Pastors, not an academic conference – a meeting characterized by prayer and discernment, a catechetical and working gathering.

“It is fundamental for the Holy Father that when the Bishops who will come to Rome have returned to their countries and their dioceses that they understand the laws to be applied and that they take the necessary steps to prevent abuse, to care for the victims, and to make sure that no case is covered up or buried.

“Regarding the high expectations that have been created around the Meeting, it is important to emphasize that the Church is not at the beginning of the fight against abuse. The Meeting is a stage along the painful journey that the Church has unceasingly and decisively undertaken for over fifteen years.”

PAPAL CATECHESIS ON THE LORD’S PRAYER

Continuing his weekly general audience catechesis on the Lord’s Prayer, Pope Francis today began by noting “we now reflect on its very first words: ‘Our Father’. Saint Paul’s letters testify that the earliest Christians, guided by the Holy Spirit, prayed using the Aramaic word for ‘father’ that Jesus himself had used: ‘Abba’. “

“At the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, then,” Francis told the faithful in the Paul VI Hall, “we hear an echo of the voice of Jesus himself who teaches the disciples that to pray is to share in his own intimate and trusting relationship with the Father. The parable of the prodigal son shows us most vividly how Jesus wants us to understand our heavenly Father and his infinite love, mercy and forgiveness.”

The Holy Father explained that, “Indeed, there is also something maternal about this love of the Father that accompanies and nurtures the development of our new life in Christ as his adoptive sons and daughters. All the newness of the Gospel, and the very heart of our prayer as Christians, is in some sense summed up in the one word: ‘Abba’. Even in the most difficult times in our lives, may we never be afraid to turn in trust and confidence to the Father, praying in the words that Jesus taught us: ‘Abba’, ‘Our Father’.”

Following the English-language summary of the papal catechesis, Francis welcomed the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, noting especially “groups from Korea and the United States of America. In the context of the upcoming Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I address a special greeting to the students of the Bossey Ecumenical Institute. My cordial greetings also go to the student priests of the Pontifical American College. On all of you I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

POPE TO ACADEMY FOR LIFE: PROMOTE HUMANISM OF FRATERNITY

The Pontifical Academy for Life was originally instituted by St. John Paul on February 11, 1994 with the Motu proprio “Vitae mysterium.” It was dedicated to “study, information and formation on the principal problems of biomedicine and of law, relative to the promotion and defense of life, above all in the direct relation that they have with Christian morality and the directives of the Church’s Magisterium”.

In 2016 and 2017 Pope Francis overhauled one of the stars of his predecessor’s pontificate, creating a new academy, statues and members, including at least one who is pro-abortion. Remarkably the original requirement for members to sign a “Declaration of the Servants of Life” was removed. This aimed at making explicit the members’ willingness to follow Church teaching on the sacredness of human life and to defend life on the Magisterium’s teaching.

Pope Francis also included the idea of “human ecology” and creation in outlining the focal points of the academy.

Today’s papal message comes just before 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 18, and the 13th edition of the March for Life in Paris on Sunday, January 20.

The Vatican news portal on Monday published a Message from Francis to the Paris March with words of encouragement.

As I read – and re-read – today’s Message I noted something interesting: the words “right to life,” “pro-life” and “unborn” do not appear. “Abortion” appears once. Humanism 5 times, humanity 5 times, human 9 times (separate from humanity and humanism).

POPE TO ACADEMY FOR LIFE: PROMOTE HUMANISM OF FRATERNITY

On the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis calls on its members to promote human fraternity and a humanism of life.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

Pope Francis made the “human community” the focus of a letter addressed to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the 25th anniversary of its foundation by Pope St John Paul II. (vaticannews photo)

God’s dream
“The human community is God’s dream even from before the creation of the world,” the Pope said, emphasizing that we must “grow in the awareness of our common origin in God’s love and creative act.” He explained that “in our time, the Church is called once more to propose the humanism of the life that bursts forth from God’s passion for human beings.”

A state of emergency
After briefly reviewing the history of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis went on to outline the “serious obstacles” facing humanity today. In particular, he noted the “state of emergency existing in our relationship with the history of the earth and its peoples.” This emergency, rooted in concern for oneself at the expense of the common good, has led to a paradox: despite rapid economic and technological progress, humanity finds itself “creating our most bitter divisions and our worst nightmares.”

A difficult task for the Church
In response, the Pope said, the Church is called to react against the negativity that “foments division, indifference, and hostility.” This is a difficult task for the Church, which is in danger of failing to recognize the gravity of the contemporary emergency. “It’s time,” he said, “for a new vision aimed at promoting a humanism of fraternity and solidarity between individuals and peoples.”

Speaking of the future of the Academy, Pope Francis said, “We need to enter into the language of men and women today, making the Gospel message incarnate in their concrete experience.” He expressed his hope that the Pontifical Academy for Life might be “a place for courageous dialogue in the service of the common good.” In particular, the Pope spoke of the importance of seeking universal criteria for making decisions, as well as a deepening understanding of the relationship between rights and duties. He called, too, for continued study of “emergent” and “convergent” technologies, mentioning specifically information and communication technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, and robotics.

The unkept promise of modernity
Finally, Pope Francis said, “The kind of medicine, economy, technology, and politics that develop within the modern city of man must also, above all, remain subject to the judgment rendered by the peripheries of the earth.” We should remember, he said, “that fraternity remains the unkept promise of modernity.”

“The strengthening of fraternity,” he said in conclusion, “generated in the human family by the worship of God in spirit and truth, is the new frontier of Christianity.”

Read the full text of Pope Francis’ Letter to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life for the 25th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Academy.  http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2019/documents/papa-francesco_20190106_lettera-accademia-vita.html

 

IS THE PREFECTURE OF THE PAPAL HOUSEHOLD ABOUT TO DISAPPEAR?

HEADS UP – Tune in tomorrow – we might learn who succeeds Cardinal Wuerl as archbishop of Washington.

IS THE PREFECTURE OF THE PAPAL HOUSEHOLD ABOUT TO DISAPPEAR?

From the January 9 blog, Stilum Curiae, by Marco Tosatti:

“From the Vatican, excellent sources tell us that the publication of a Motu proprio that would sanction the disappearance of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household is close, is not imminent. The Prefecture is the body that deals, in general, with the appointments and audiences of the reigning Pontiff when this does not happen through the Secretariat of State or the particular Secretariat of the Pontiff.

The Prefecture would become an office of the First Section of the Secretariat of State (the section that deals with general and internal affairs), thus losing its autonomy and its role.

The current Prefect, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, formerly the special secretary of Pope Benedict XVI, still in charge of the daily life of Pope emeritus Benedict, would become, according to the voices reported, secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Congregation secretary now is Msgr. Marcello Bartolucci, born in 1944 (he will then turn 75 on April 9th), nominated in 2010 to this post by Benedict XVI, therefore making possible all the formal elements for a substitution. The Prefect of the Congregation is the former Substitute for the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Angelo Becciu (…)

The same voices (sources) confirm what was written a few days ago, namely the end of Ecclesia Dei, the Commission specialized in dialogue with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X (FSSPX) and charged with ensuring the correct application by the bishops of the Motu proprio Summorum pontificum. We do not know what task will be entrusted to Mons. Guido Pozzo, theologian and philosopher, who guided the Commission”.

A CHALICE GOES HOME…..

I originally posted the story of this chalice on April 16, 2012 when both the chalice and Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI turned 95. I had two wonderful dreams for this chalice over the years – you will see how I realized those dreams by reading this story!

A CHALICE GOES HOME…..

Once upon a time…..
My paternal grandparents had two lovely summer homes on a large piece of property on Lake Michigan that were used alternately by my parents and my Dad’s sisters and brother throughout June, July and August every summer. The main home was called White Ledge and was a legend in the area for many reasons but mainly because it could accommodate about 30 guests on a weekend – many bedrooms and baths and, of course, a huge dining room and kitchen. My grandmother spent six months a year at this home and hosted many philanthropic events for the Church in the house or gardens.

One of my grandfather’s brothers – our great-Uncle Frank and great-Aunt Julia Lewis- had a rather large estate about a mile up the road from our property. Because the Catholic populace grew so much when people came up for the summer, the small local church could not handle everyone, even with multiple Sunday morning Masses (no evening Masses in those years), and so my aunt and uncle obtained permission to have Mass outdoors at their home on Sunday.

They were known for their philanthropy and the fact that the Church was the focus of their lives, along with their very large family! It was quite common for them to invite some of their closest friends – cardinals, bishops, priests and seminarians – to spend the weekend at their Michigan summer home. The main house was quite large and they a number of almost equally large year-round homes on the property for their large family and for guests.

Every Saturday night, the Belarussian-born caretaker, Ignatz would set up the “pews” – the benches and kneelers – for one hundred plus people. And every Sunday morning, before the 10 a.m. Mass, big bunches of gladioli were cut and put into tall vases near the altar – which was at the top of some steps going up to the home’s main porch. My brothers and some of our young cousins served as altar boys in those years.

My Dad and uncles served as ushers and Sunday morning Mass at Aunt Julia’s and Uncle Frank’s was largely a family affair! I do remember Aunt Julia telling us once, years later that, for 30 summers, it never rained on a Sunday morning between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.! I know she had several relics she would bring out each Sunday and place on her pew.

Over the years I met many prelates, as you can imagine. I just wish I had thought at the time of keeping a diary! But one doesn’t often think of doing that at the age of 8 or 10!

One of the priests I remember meeting a number of time was Fr. Toohey. I remember him as a delightful man who always wore a big smile and was very grandfatherly.

Years later, when I was home from Rome on vacation, I noticed a beautiful chalice in my parents’ home and asked them about it. Dad told me that his parents – my grandparents – had paid for a young man to attend seminary on Chicago and on his ordination day, and had given him this chalice – Fr. Leo Toohey.

Fr. Toohey was ordained on April 16, 1927! The very day Pope Benedict was born! And, of all the truly amazing things, the chalice was made in Germany!

I have been told – and have to explore this further! – that several markings on the bottom of the chalice indicate exactly where in Germany this was made and by whom.

The bottom of the chalice reads: “Presented to Rev. Leo Raphael Toohey by Mr. and Mrs. William H. Lewis on his ordination day – April 16 AD 1927.”

The chalice was purchased at Edward Koenig Company in Chicago. It was given to my grandfather when Fr. Toohey died at 53 on January 8, 1950, later was given to my Dad, and my parents eventually gave this chalice to me. Fr. Toohey for years was pastor at St. Simon Church in Ludington, Michigan. I found articles about him on the Internet!

I’ve had two big dreams for this chalice: The first was to get to know a seminarian from Chicago to whom I could give the chalice so that, after many decades, the chalice makes a “round trip,” returning from whence it came.

My second dream was to have Pope emeritus Benedict XVI celebrate Mass with this chalice.

Both have now come true!

First, let me tell you about my second dream….

OCTOBER 19, 2013:

I attended Mass this morning in the chapel of the monastery where Pope emeritus Benedict XVI lives in retirement with Abp. Georg Gaenswein and four consecrated women. Benedict XVI said Mass with Fr. Toohey’s chalice, Abp. Gaenswein did the readings. It was beautiful and intimate and very moving for me. The Pope came from the sacristy after Mass and we spoke for about 5 minutes. It was as moving and wonderful as the Mass itself. I have written an account elsewhere.

Pope Em. Benedict gave me a rosary and 2 holy cards for the young man who will receive this chalice some day and he gave me – for myself – a rosary and 2 holy cards. Abp. Gaenswein handed me an envelope and inside was a note with his crest that stated that Pope Em. Benedict said Mass with this chalice on October 19, 2013.

I had written Msgr. Georg a few times before this day, asking if Pope Benedict (I started writing when Benedict was still the Holy Father) could say Mass with the chalice. I told him the story that you just read. I only wanted the chalice to be used at Mass. I never thought of my actually being present at Mass so this was a huge gift for me.

This photo was taken in my home after that Mass with Pope emeritus Benedict:

The person who actually got the ball rolling was a German friend of mine, Michael Hesemann (yes, the well-known prolific author) who knew the story of the chalice and, in the summer of 2013, when he was in Rome, asked if my dream had come true – had Pope Benedict said Mass with the chalice? I said ‘no’, adding that I was a little disappointed.

Michael knows the Pope’s brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger and he asked me to write down the story which he then translated into German and a few weeks later handed to Msgr. Georg at his home in Regensburg, Germany. Msgr. Georg shortly after that came to Rome to visit his brother, the Pope emeritus, told him the story, handed him the written story and not long after that I got a phone call from the papal secretary to tell me that Mass was indeed possible and did I wish to be present!!!

This story has been printed and is in a folder, along with 2 photos of Fr. Toohey, the rosary and holy cards that Pope Benedict gave to me after Mass on Saturday, October 19, 2013. The folder is under the chalice in my crystal cabinet.

I have to add one more small detail about October 19, 2013:

Three hours after attending Mass in Pope Benedict’s monastery chapel, I met Pope Francis for the first time! The Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums was celebrating its 30th anniversary in Rome and, as a patron, I joined the group for the papal audience. Francis met each one of us individually – his wish! – after a brief speech.

How many of us on this earth can say we were with two Popes – a reigning pontiff and an emeritus Holy Father – on the same day!

And now, the final dream has come true!

On December 22 in Chicago, I finally met Ryan Brady, a second year seminarian from Mundelein with whom I had been corresponding for some time and about whom I had heard wonderful things from priests in the diocese.

From all I learned, I knew that Ryan would be the seminarian to receive the chalice.

And so we met for dinner, along with Msgr. Michael Boland, director of Catholic charities in Chicago, and Deacon Stan Strom.

Ryan knew nothing about the chalice.

During the dinner conversation, Msgr. Boland (who knew what I was about to do) made a statement about something that was the perfect introduction to the story about the chalice. I told the story as written above and when I got to the part about my dream for the chalice to go to a seminarian, I pointed to Ryan, and said with a big smile, “You are that future priest.”

I took photos but none of that very moment!

I had gift wrapped the chalice, along with the papal rosary and holy cards, the pictures of Fr. Toohey and Msgr. Gaenswein’s certificate about the Mass, and Ryan slowly unwrapped everything. It was a beautiful, memorable moment for all of us!

The letter he wrote to me after the dinner merely affirmed my belief that this almost century-old chalice should go to Ryan Brady.

And so a dream does not end but rather continues!

Bless you, Ryan! May God sit on your shoulder!