If anyone reading this column has reserved for August 3 (this weekend) the Vatican Museums’ visit to Castelgandolfo and the papal residence that takes place on Saturdays throughout the year, the Museums have issued the following notice (obviously this refers to any tourists who still wants to reserve this special visit in August):

“For extraordinary summer maintenance work on the Ciampino-Albano Laziale railway line (vice versa) – and in order to cause the least inconvenience to visitors, the Vatican Museums’ “Vatican by Train” initiative has arranged for a private substitute shuttle service dedicated to visitors who reserved the visit in lieu of scheduled train service on the following Saturdays: August 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31. This visit, whose destination is the papal villas in Castelgandolfo, normally starts with departures from the Vatican City train station and from the Roma San Pietro. On the above dates busses will substitute the trains.”

If you can manage to have your Rome itinerary include a Saturday, be sure to reserve for this special trip. I have done it and it is a full day but a lot of fun and a real beautiful experience – the Castelli Romani hills towns, the papal residence and gardens, Lake Albano, an extinct volcano, etc. (JFL photos)

For anything related to the Vatican Museums, go to the OFFICIAL website: http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/en.html

For the Saturday Castelgandolfo visit: http://www.museivaticani.va/content/museivaticani/en/visita-i-musei/scegli-la-visita/ville-pontificie-e-giardini/ville-pontificie-di-castel-gandolfo.html

Do not Google “Vatican Museums” and get some tour group or website that will charge you a higher price than the Museums do. After all, they have to make a profit. Go straight to the official site!


Pope Francis has released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for August, which is that families may become “schools of true human development”.

In his prayer intention for the month of August 2019, Pope Francis invites us to pray that, “families, through their life of prayer and love, become ever more clearly schools of true human development.”

It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his prayer intention for each month.

The full text of his intention is below:
What kind of world do we want to leave for the future?
Let us leave a world with families.
Let us care for our families, because they are true schools for the future, spaces of freedom, and centers of humanity.
And let us reserve a special place in our families for individual and communal prayer.
Let us pray that families, through their life of prayer and love, become ever more clearly “schools of true human development”.

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity.

Click here to see the August papal video: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-08/pope-francis-july-prayer-intention-families0.html#play



(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday released a video message accompanying his prayer intention for the month of December, which this month is “For the elderly.”

“Let us keep in mind our elders, so that sustained by families and institutions, may with their wisdom and experience collaborate in the education of new generations.”

It has become the custom of Pope Francis to release a video message detailing his new prayer intention each month. The monthly videos are promoted by the “Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer,” an organisation dedicated to spreading the Pope’s prayer intentions concerning the challenges facing humanity.

Watch the video here:

The full text of the message follows:

A people that does not take care of grandparents, that does not treat them well has no future.

The elderly have wisdom.

They are entrusted with a great responsibility: to transmit their life experience, their family history, the history of a community, of a people.

Let us keep in mind our elders, so that sustained by families and institutions, may with their wisdom and experience collaborate in the education of new generations.

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer developed “The Pope Video” initiative to assist in the worldwide dissemination of monthly intentions of the Holy Father in relation to the challenges facing humanity.


(AsiaNews, Vatican Radio) – Rohingya refugees have expressed their gratitude to Pope Francis who took time to listen to their stories and even asked for forgiveness on behalf of the world that has been indifferent to them.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Sawkat Ara 12, said she experienced compassion towards her when the Pope placed his hands on her head when she told him that her parents and five siblings were killed and she was left alone.

Mohmmon Nurulla, who knows the Quran by heart, felt that the Pope expressed his sympathy when he spoke of how his people were persecuted. Nurulla recognized the Pope as a man of peace and is convinced that he can help them.  Touched by Pope’s kind-heartedness he hoped that Allah will listen to the Pope’s prayers for his people.

Shyada Khaton, whose husband was killed and is left with four children to take care of, is also of the same sentiments.

The meeting was organized by Bangladesh government in collaboration with Caritas Bangladesh.

According to Bishop Gervas Rozario, president of the social arm of the Catholic Church in Bangladesh, Caritas Bangladesh volunteers are collaborating with World Food Program officials. The latter are engaged in the assignment of rice while the Church Association distributes lentils, sugar, salt and oil. It also prepares hot meals every day for 10,000 families, for a total of nearly 70,000 individuals. For the past two months it has fed seventy thousand Rohingya and recently it has started a hygiene and rehabilitation programme for them. (AsiaNews)




Writing on his Apostleship of Prayer blog, “Offer it up,” Father James Kubicki, SJ national director of the Apostleship, explains a notable change in the format that has been used for quite some time for monthly papal prayer intensions.

“Since the late 1800’s,” he writes, “the Pope has given a monthly prayer intention to the world through the Apostleship of Prayer, now known as the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network.  In 1929 he added a second intention for the missions.  Today these are called his “universal” and “evangelization” intentions.

The process of soliciting suggestions from Vatican Congregations and from members around the world, then proposing them to the Holy Father, then receiving his final versions and translating them from Italian into various languages, then publicizing them via print—is a long process.  That is why the intentions for 2018 will be chosen and translated in early 2017.”

“But a significant change has been made,” Fr. Kubicki then notes.

He explains that “Pope Francis is returning to the practice of one monthly intention; the twelve intentions for 2017, which alternate between evangelization and universal intentions, have already been published. However, given the speed of communication in the digital age, he is adding a second, urgent prayer intention that he will make known during his Angelus address on the first Sunday of the month.  As soon as we hear what they are we will be publicizing them on our website and other social media.!

Fr. Kubicki cites a fellow Jesuit, Fr. Frederic Fornos, the international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, who, he says, “sees this as a way that Pope Francis wants to confront ‘the culture of indifference’ by focusing our prayerful attention on situations that are “more concrete, precise, current, related to actual circumstances.”

From the Apostleship of Prayer website:


  • ·         Pope’s Prayer Intention – Christian Unity: That all Christians may be faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity. 
  • ·         Urgent Intention – Homeless People Affected by the Cold: That in these days of such great cold that we think of all the people living on the streets, affected by the cold and by the indifference of others. We pray for them and ask the Lord to warm the hearts of others to help them.

Here is a video for Pope Francis’ January 2017 intention, published on January 9 – Christians Serving Humanity: http://thepopevideo.org/

English translation: In today’s world, Christians from various churches work together to serve humanity in need, to defend human life and its dignity, to defend creation, and to combat injustice. This desire to walk together, to collaborate in service and in solidarity with the weakest and with those who suffer, is a source of joy for us all. Join your voice to mine in praying for all who contribute through prayer and fraternal charity to restoring full ecclesial communion in service of the challenges facing humanity.

The Apostleship of Prayer was set up in 1844 by a group of Jesuit seminarians at Vals, France.

The Apostleship website notes that, “Since 1844 our mission has been to help Christians live out their desire to serve God with their whole lives and their whole selves. God asks us all to pray for ourselves and for others. To make ourselves a living sacrifice and to pray without ceasing for all the needs of the Church and for the whole world. Since the nineteenth century popes have asked the Apostleship of Prayer to pray for specific intentions. We receive two prayer intentions each month from the Holy Father, pledging ourselves to pray for them every day.

In 2006, the board of the Apostleship of Prayer approved this statement of our mission:

The mission of the Apostleship of Prayer is to encourage Christians to make a daily offering of themselves to the Lord for the coming of God’s Kingdom and for the Holy Father’s monthly intentions. This habit of prayer encourages a Eucharistic spirituality of solidarity with the Body of Christ and loving service to others. Nourishing this spiritual program is the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

For more information: http://www.apostleshipofprayer.org/


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has named an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles – Oscar Azarcon Solis – as the tenth Bishop of Salt Lake City, United States.

Bishop Solis will be the first Filipino-American Bishop to lead a Diocese in the United States.


He said: “It’s a beautiful thing to receive the appointment. It’s a recognition of the diversity of the Church in America and the universality of the Church. It is a tremendous blessing and a responsibility and a privilege to be of service to the local Church in the United States of America, coming from the Philippines.”

Bishop Solis was born October 13, 1953 in San Jose, Nueva Ecija, Philippines.He attended the Christ the King Seminary of the Society of the Divine Word, Tagaytag City, to study philosophy and the Pontifical Royal Seminary at the University of Saint Thomas in Manila for his theological studies.

Bishop Solis was ordained a priest on 28 April 1979 for the Diocese of Cabanatuan and served as chaplain to a number of organisations, as Prefect of Seminary Studies and as Diocesan Vocations Director.

In 1984, he emigrated to the United States and until 1988 he was a Parochial Vicar in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. Later, he was incardinated into the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, in 1992, where he served in four different parishes.

Bishop Solis was named as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and was ordained on February 10, 2004. He was the first Filipino-American bishop ordained in the United States.

In 2009 he was named Episcopal Vicar for the San Pedro Region and has served on the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Bishop Solis will be officially installed at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, Salt Lake City, on Tuesday, March 7.