Today is the 52nd anniversary of the priestly ordination of Pope Francis, ordained in Argentina on December 13, 1969. Many best wishes, Holy Father!

Pope Francis will also mark another big day this week – his 85th birthday on December 17!   Tanti auguri, Papa Francesco!


Today, December 13, is also the feast of St. Lucy, patron saint of the blind and is also invoked against hemorraghes, diseases of the eye, and throat infections.

painting by Francesco del Cossa

I visited the church in Venice where she is buried and and only find two of my photos at the moment.

The church’s website states: According to tradition, the remains of Saint Lucy were taken from Constantinople in 1204 by the Venetian doge Enrico Dandolo, along with those of Sant’Agata during the Fourth Crusade. Lucy’s remains were first laid to rest in the church of San Giorgio Maggiore.  After a tragic accident on Saint Lucy’s day in 1279, where pilgrims were drowned partly because of the numbers visiting Lucy, the Senate decided that the relics should be transferred to a city church, to allow better access. So, on 18 January 1280, led by a solemn procession, the body was brought to the church of Santa Maria Annunziata (or the «Nunciata») in the sestiere of Cannaregio.(the website:

She is one of my favorite saints and has brought me through many eye surgeries. For the very first one in December 2011, a detached retina in one eye and laser surgeries in the other, I entered the eye hospital precisely on her feast day, December 13, and remained for 9 days.

Here’s a great story on how she is celebrated in Italy:  How and why Italy celebrates Santa Lucia on December 13th (


The Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments says “the publication of the Rite of Institution of Catechists offers a further opportunity for reflection on the theology of ministries in order to arrive at an organic vision of the distinct ministerial realities.”

By Salvatore Cernuzio

Accipe hoc fídei nostræ signum, cáthedram veritátis et caritátis Christi, eúmque vita, móribus et verbo annúntia – “Receive this sign of our faith, cathedra of the truth and love of Christ, and proclaim it with your life, your conduct and your word.”

Beginning on 1 January 2022, this will be one of the Latin formulas with which laymen and laywomen “of profound faith and human maturity” will be instituted as catechists by their bishop during a liturgical celebration.

The new Rite

After formally instituting the ministry of the catechist with the motu proprio Antiquum ministerium, Pope Francis has approved and published an Editio typica [typical edition] that introduces a specific Rite of Institution of Catechists. This is the base text that will then be translated and adapted by the various Bishops’ Conferences around the world.

The conferences will have the task of clarifying the profile and role of catechists, offering them suitable formation and helping the various communities grasp the meaning of the ministry, so that it will not be confused with other roles in the Church.

The Rite of Institution can take place during a Mass or a celebration of the Word of God; the Editio also indicates the readings from the Old and New Testaments to be used in the celebration. The Rite will follow a precise format, beginning with an exhortation to the candidate, followed by an invitation to prayer, a blessing, and the handing over of the crucifix.

A further step

The introduction of a Rite of Institution of Catechists marks a further step in the general reflection on ecclesial ministries, following up on the motu proprio Spiritus Domini, issued on 10 January 2021, which modified Canon Law on women’s access to the ministries of lector and acolyte; and the aforementioned Antiquum ministerium, issued on 10 May 2021.

In a letter accompanying the publication of the Editio typica, Archbishop Arthur Roche, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, emphasizes that the new Rite “offers a further opportunity for reflection on the theology of ministries in order to arrive at an organic vision of the distinct ministerial realities.”

The letter, addressed to the presidents of the various bishops’ conferences, proposes some indications concerning the ministry of catechist.

Nature of the ministry

First of all, the letter clarifies the nature of this ministry, quoting Pope Francis’ description of it as “a stable form service rendered to the local Church.” It is above all a “lay ministry based on the common baptismal state” and therefore “essentially distinct” from the ordained ministry.

Archbishop Roche explains that, “catechists, by virtue of their Baptism, are called to be co-responsible in the local Church for the proclamation and transmission of the faith, carrying out this role in collaboration with the ordained ministers and under their guidance.”

To avoid misunderstandings, the Prefect of Divine Worship clarifies that the term “catechist” indicates different realities in relation to the ecclesial context: “Catechists in mission territories,” for instance, “differ from those working in churches of long-standing tradition.”

In the great variety of forms, however, one can distinguish – “though not rigidly” – two main types: catechists with the specific task of catechesis, and others who participate in the different forms of the apostolate, such as leading community prayer; assisting the sick; celebrating funerals; training other catechists; coordinating pastoral initiatives; and helping the poor.

Ministry of catechist and other ecclesial roles

In his letter, Archbishop Roche says that since this ministry has “a definite vocational aspect” which requires “due discernment” by the bishops, not all those who are called “catechists” or who carry out a service of pastoral collaboration should be formally instituted in the ministry of catechists.

In particular, he says, “it is preferable” that certain classes of people not be instituted as such. These include: candidates for the diaconate and the priesthood; men and women religious, regardless of whether they belong to Institutes whose charism is catechesis; teachers of religion in schools; and those who perform a service aimed exclusively at members of an ecclesial movement, to whom this “precious” function is entrusted by the leaders of the movements and not by the bishop.

As for those who accompany the initiation of children and adults, they too do not necessarily have to be instituted in the specific ministry, but should receive at the beginning of each catechetical year “a public ecclesial mandate entrusting them with this important function.” However, this does not detract from the fact that some of them may be instituted as Lectors or Catechists, on the basis of their pastoral abilities and needs.

Defining the roles of catechists

The letter then specifies that it is the task of the individual Bishops’ Conferences to clarify the profile, role, and the most coherent forms for the exercise of the ministry of catechists. The Conferences are also called to define suitable formation programmes for candidates, and to prepare their communities to understand the meaning of this ministry.

Archbishop Roche notes that canon law provides for the possibility of entrusting to a lay person “a share in the exercise of pastoral care in a parish,” but says it is necessary “to form the community so that it does not see the Catechist as a substitute for the Priest or Deacon, but as a member of the lay faithful who lives their baptism in fruitful collaboration and shared responsibility with the ordained ministers, so that their pastoral care may reach everyone.”

The Prefect also explains the requirements for catechists, referencing Antiquum ministerium.

The ministry of catechist is open to men and women “of profound faith and human maturity active participants in the life of the Christian community, capable of welcoming others, being generous and living a life of fraternal communion,” with “suitable biblical, theological, pastoral and pedagogical formation,” who have received the sacraments of Christian initiation. Each candidate must first present his or her bishop with a “freely written and signed” petition seeking institution as a catechist.



There was a beautiful Mass Sunday morning in a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square for the Jubilee of Catechists with tens of thousands of them from around the world filling the Square.


“On this Jubilee for Catechists,” said the Pope in his homily, “we are being asked not to tire of keeping the key message of the faith front and center: The Lord is risen! Nothing is more important; nothing is clearer or more relevant than this. Everything in the faith becomes beautiful when linked to this centerpiece, this beating heart which gives life to everything is the Paschal proclamation, the first proclamation: the Lord Jesus is risen! The Lord Jesus loves you, and he has given his life for you; risen and alive, he is close to you and waits for you every day.  We must never forget this.”

Francis reminded the catechists that, “Jesus loves us personally! May he give us the strength to live and proclaim the commandment of love, overcoming the blindness of appearances, and worldly sadness. May he make us sensitive to the poor, who are not an afterthought in the Gospel but an important page, always open before all.”

In addressing the faithful in St. Peter’s Square following Mass and ahead of the Angelus, Pope Francis offered prayers for the two Mexican priests who had been abducted and killed the previous Sunday – and just hours before hearing of the same fate for a third Catholic priest.  He prayed that ongoing violence in Mexico might end.

In fact, the archdiocese of Morelia announced that the body of a priest abducted in Mexico a week ago and shot at point blank range has been found, just hours after Pope Francis had issued a heartfelt appeal for an end to the violence in that country. Fr. Jose Lopez Guillen had, like the two priests last week, been robbed and abducted in the western Mexican State of Michocan on the very same day the bodies of the other two priests were found.

The Holy Father also expressed his support for the pro-family and pro-life efforts of the Mexican bishops. Saying: “I am very happy to associate myself with the Bishops of Mexico, in supporting the commitment of the Church and civil society in favor of the family and of life, which in this time require special pastoral and cultural attention in all the world.”

The abduction and murders of the three priests in the space of a week occurs at a time when Church leaders have been requesting increased protection for clergy. The violence against clergy takes place as the Church in Mexico takes a strong stance in defense of traditional marriage, at he same time that the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto wants to change laws so that to allow legal recognition of same-sex unions and equate them as marriage.

The Catholic Multi-Media Center notes that 15 priests have been murdered in Mexico in less than four years.


The press office today released the declaration that you can read below about the visit by President Joseph Kabila of the Congo to Pope Francis. However, members of the press pool attending the audience noted that the atmosphere seemed decidedly different from other papal audiences with heads of State. AP reported: “The audience Monday was a brief 20 minutes, with interpreters. The pope didn’t greet Kabila in the reception room where, according to Vatican protocol, Francis would normally greet a visiting head of state. Rather, a glum-looking Francis waited for Kabila in his library.” (AP photo)


Here is the Vatican report:

Today, Monday 26 September 2016, the Holy Father received in audience, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, His Excellency Joseph Kabila, who subsequently met with His Excellency Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

In a statement, the Holy See’s Press Office said during the “cordial discussions,” the good relations between the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were evoked, “with particular reference to the important contribution of the Catholic Church in the life of the nation, with its institutions in the educational, social and healthcare spheres, as well as in development and the reduction of poverty. In this context, mutual satisfaction was expressed for the signing of the framework Agreement between the Holy See and the State, which took place on 20 May this year.”

Particular attention was paid, the comunique continues, “to the serious challenges placed by the current political challenge and the recent clashes that have occurred in the capital. Emphasis was placed on the importance of collaboration between political actors and representatives of civil society and religious communities, in favor of the common good, through a respectful and inclusive dialogue for the stability of peace in the country.”

Finally, the Parties focused on the persistent violence suffered by the population in the east of the country, and on the urgency of cooperation at national and international levels, in order to provide the necessary assistance and to re-establish civil co-existence.