POPE FRANCIS TWEETED TODAY: Our priestly life is given over in service, in closeness to the People of God, with the joy of those who hear the Lord.

Join Fr. Andrew Apostoli this Sunday, June 5, on EWTN’s Prime Time Sunday at 8 pm (ET) as we talk about my book, “A Holy Year in Rome.” I had a wonderful time visiting the campus of St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers – where the ITV studios are located – when I was in New York for my book promo tour. Fr. Andrew and I had lunch on May 3, discussed the key points he wanted to make and then taped the show. It was a lot of fun and I wish you a lovely Sunday evening as you join us for this conversation.

Above all, I wish you happy reading!

I had many outside commitments today and have time for only one news story in this column, that is, the papal homily for the Jubilee of Priests that I dedicate to each and every one of my many wonderful, treasured priest friends (and bishops!)! These words are Francis’ gift to each of you!


Join me this weekend for Part II of my conversation with Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, the postulator of the cause of canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity. We spoke when he was in Rome for the announcement by Pope Francis of the decrees of canonization for Blessed Mother Teresa and four others. The September 4 date for her canonization was also announced that day. Listen as Fr. Brian tells riveting stories about this future saint, and how he came to be the postulator for her cause.

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Pope Francis closed the three-day Jubilee for priests with Mass this morning in St. Peter’s Square in the presence of 6,000 priests and seminarians from around the world.


The Jubilee for Priests fell on the 160° anniversary of the institution of the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pope Pius IX in 1856. Since 2002, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is also a special Day of Prayer for the sanctification of priests. The First Friday of each month is devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Pope spoke of today’s feast in his opening words: “This celebration of the Jubilee for Priests on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us all to turn to the heart, the deepest root and foundation of every person, the focus of our affective life and, in a word, his or her very core. Today we contemplate two hearts: the Heart of the Good Shepherd and our own heart as priests.

In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on “two hearts: the Heart of the Good Shepherd” and the hearts of priests.

“The Heart of the Good Shepherd,” said Francis, “is not only the Heart that shows us mercy, but is itself mercy. There the Father’s love shines forth; there I know I am welcomed and understood as I am; there, with all my sins and limitations, I know the certainty that I am chosen and loved. Contemplating that heart, I renew my first love: the memory of that time when the Lord touched my soul and called me to follow him, the memory of the joy of having cast the nets of our life upon the sea of his word.”

“The Heart of the Good Shepherd,” continued the Pope, “tells us that his love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up. There we see his infinite and boundless self-giving; there we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets free and makes others free;….        The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular ‘weakness’ of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose none.

The Holy Father explained that “contemplation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Heart of the Good Shepherd, is an invitation to priests to reflect on the question, ‘Where is my heart directed?’ Priestly ministry, he said, is often caught up in “plans, projects, and activities,” and, while this is necessary, priests should consider that the Heart of Jesus is directed to two treasures: the Father and ourselves. Jesus’ days, he said, “were divided between prayer to the Father and encountering people.” Like Jesus, the priest should have his heart turned towards God and towards his brothers and sisters.

“To help our hearts burn with the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, we can train ourselves to do three things suggested to us by today’s readings: seek out, include and rejoice.

“SEEK OUT. The prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God himself goes out in search of his sheep (Ez 34:11, 16). As the Gospel says, he “goes out in search of the one who is lost” (Lk 15:4), without fear of the risks.    . Such is a heart that seeks out – a heart that does not set aside times and spaces as private, a heart that is not jealous of its legitimate quiet time and never demands that it be left alone. A shepherd after the heart of God does not protect his own comfort zone; he is not worried about protecting his good name, but rather, without fearing criticism, he is disposed to take risks in seeking to imitate his Lord.

“INCLUDE. Christ loves and knows his sheep. He gives his life for them, and no one is a stranger to him (cf. Jn 10:11-14).  His flock is his family and his life. He is not a boss to feared by his flock, but a shepherd who walks alongside them and calls them by name….”

“REJOICE: God is “full of joy” (cf. Lk 15:5). His joy is born of forgiveness, of life risen and renewed, of prodigal children who breathe once more the sweet air of home. The joy of Jesus the Good Shepherd is not a joy for himself alone, but a joy for others and with others, the true joy of love. This is also the joy of the priest. He is changed by the mercy that he freely gives. In prayer he discovers God’s consolation and realizes that nothing is more powerful than his love. He thus experiences inner peace, and is happy to be a channel of mercy, to bring men and women closer to the Heart of God. Sadness for him is not the norm, but only a step along the way; harshness is foreign to him, because he is a shepherd after the meek Heart of God.”




The Jubilee for Priests began on Wednesday, and concludes tomorrow, June 3, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with Mass presided over by Pope Francis. Tpday, Thursday, the Holy Father gave three meditations for the priests present in Rome for their Jubilee (photos:


In his first meditation this morning in St. John Lateran, Francis said, “God’s name is mercy. If we reflect on this natural feeling of mercy we begin to see how God Himself can be understood in terms of this defining attribute by which Jesus wished to reveal Him to us.”


In his cathedral church, Pope Francis focused on the parable of the prodigal son. He reflected on the “embarrassed dignity” of the son who returned to his father – he is embarrassed by what he has done, but his father restores him to his dignity. Mercy, the Pope said, helps us to maintain the balance between acknowledging that we are sinners, and recognizing our dignity as children loved by the Father. If we can see ourselves in the place of the son, who was shown mercy by the father, we in turn will be led to be merciful to others.

“Mercy, seen in feminine terms, is the tender love of a mother who, touched by the frailty of her new-born baby, takes the child into her arms and provides everything it needs to live and grow (rehanim). In masculine terms, mercy is the steadfast fidelity of a father who constantly supports, forgives and encourages his children to grow. Mercy is the fruit of a covenant; that is why God is said to remember his covenant of mercy (hesed). At the same time, it is an utterly free act of kindness and goodness (eleos) rising up from the depths of our being and finding outward expression in charity.” (


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered his second meditation for the retreat for priests at the papal Basilica of St Mary Major. Thursday’s retreat is part of the Jubilee for Priests taking place from 1-3 June.

In his second mediation, Pope Francis reflected on the “vessel of mercy.” “Our sin is like a sieve, or a leaky bucket,” he said, “from which grace quickly drains.” But God keeps forgiving us, and applies mercy to our weakness, creating a clean heart within us. It is precisely our experience of mercy that leads us to be merciful to others.

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This, the Pope said, is seen in the life of saints, such as Peter and Paul, John, Augustine, Francis, and Ignatius. In fact, it is precisely those who have experienced mercy who often are the “best practitioners of mercy.”

But it is the sinless Virgin Mary who is the “simple yet perfect vessel that receives and bestows mercy.” The Holy Father contrasted Mary’s “yes” to grace with the sin of the prodigal son, the subject of his first meditation.

Pope Francis, recalling his visit to Mexico and his prayer before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, reflected on the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin.

He concluded his second meditation by leading the priests in the Salve Regina. (


The theme of the Pope’s third meditation at a spiritual retreat held on Thursday at the Papal Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls was “the good odor of Christ and the light of his mercy.”

At the heart of his reflection were the Works of Mercy, he said that, as priests, “being merciful is not only “a way of life,” but “the way of life,” adding,  “there is no other way of being a priest.”

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Drawing from the passage of the Lord’s encounter with the woman caught in adultery, the Pope explained that when Jesus says “Go and sin no more, “his command has to do with the future, to help her to make a new start and to “walk in love.” Such is the sensitivity of mercy, the Holy Father continued. “ it looks with compassion on the past and offers encouragement for the future.”

Focusing his attention of the Sacrament of Confession Pope Francis noted that “people come to confession  because they are penitent. They come to confession because they want to change.”

During his meditation, the Pope also invited priests to let themselves “be moved by people’s situation, which at times is a mixture of their own doing, human weakness, sin and insuperable conditionings.  He went on to say, “we have to be like Jesus, who was deeply moved by the sight of people and their problems…”


Are you a young person who has a question for Pope Francis?

If so, just visit and learn how to contact the Holy Father.

The site explains its goal, saying “Pope Francis invites young people from around the world to send him questions through the website They can ask him whatever is in their hearts, be it out of interest, doubt or curiosity. The pontiff will reply to some of them in a book to be published in upcoming months in various languages and countries—in Italy by Mondadori.

“The project was done in collaboration with Scholas Occurrentes, an international organization of Pontifical right created by Pope Francis that works with youths and education with the aim of promoting social integration and the culture of encounter for peace.

“This will lead to the creation of a veritable ‘social book’ that uses new forms of communication to put people from every corner of the globe in touch with the Holy Father—a great virtual dialogue between Pope Francis and youths achieved thanks to a new technological and publishing platform developed by the startup eFanswer.”


Online Media Platform Targets Millennials with Shareable Content

Irondale, AL (EWTN) – EWTN Global Catholic Network has announced the acquisition of ChurchPOP, a fun, informative and inspirational online platform of “shareable Christian culture,” which can be found at In addition to the primary ChurchPOP service, the acquisition also includes ChurchPOP Español and ChurchPOP Português.

“The content available on the ChurchPOP platforms provides a terrific vehicle to engage millennials and others who might not be reached by more traditional religious media,” said EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw. “Throughout our 35-year history, EWTN has always been at the forefront of the new evangelization, using every possible form of media to carry out our mission.  The addition of ChurchPOP to the EWTN family will enable us to continue to expand our audiences around the globe.”

“I’m honored to be working with EWTN,” said ChurchPOP founder and Editor-in-Chief Brantly Millegan. “I credit our present success to the great writers who contribute to ChurchPOP and to our readers, who help spread the word about the websites. Thanks to the backing of EWTN, we have big plans for the future of ChurchPOP.”




(Vatican Radio)  At the general audience Wednesday, Pope Francis explained that Friday, June 3, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, saying this year “is enriched by the Jubilee for Priests.” He invited “everyone to pray the Heart of Jesus for the entire month of June and to support with closeness and affection your priests so that they always reflect the image of that Heart full of merciful love.”

The Jubilee for Priests falls on the 160th anniversary of the institution of the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,  introduced in 1856 by Pope Pius IX.

To celebrate their Jubilee in Rome, on Wednesday clergy and seminarians from around the world began the first of three days of prayer and reflection with pilgrimages to the Jubilee churches: S. Salvatore in Lauro, S. Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) and S. Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini.

In a note, the Holy See Press Office said that some 6,000 priests and seminarians “are already present for this Jubilee” in Rome.

Events will provide opportunities for them to reflect and mediate together on the Word of God, to adore the Most Blessed Sacrament, to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and to make a pilgrimage through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.

On Thursday, Pope Francis will offer three meditations for a spiritual retreat on the theme of “the Good Shepherd: the priest as a minister of mercy and compassion, close to his people and servant of all.”


Pope Francis will take part in Thursday’s retreat with stops in the three Papal Basilicas:  St. John Lateran, Saint Mary Major and Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls (10:00, 12:00 noon and 4pm respectively). The basilicas will be connected via video link throughout the day so that priests present can follow the entire day’s meditations.

“The great novelty” of the Jubilee, said the Holy See Press Office, is that, thanks to the Vatican Television Center which will film the event, the public will be able to follow Pope Francis’ meditations for the clergy 2 June on major national and international Catholic television networks and in streaming on the official Jubilee of Mercy website: .  Streamed video will be offered in the original Italian and with simultaneous translations  in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Polish.

Among Catholic stations to broadcast the event in the U.S. are EWTN and BCTV.

The Jubilee celebrations will conclude with a Holy Mass presided by the Holy Father on Friday 3 June in St. Peter’s Square.


Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience in a sunny St. Peter’s Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims on this, the first of three days of celebrations in Rome for the Jubilee of Priests. Countless priests and seminarians attended the Wednesday audience and were spotted afterwards in nearby neighborhoods as they visited churches, browsed in religious goods stores, took photos in and around the basilica or began searching for outdoor restaurants for an early lunch.

Large groups of priests gathered at Castel Sant’Angelo where, under a small white tent, Jubilee pilgrims start the several-block-long procession to and through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. A beautiful wood Jubilee cross is given to one person who will lead the procession as the group listens to prayers and reflections.

As some groups approached the square this morning, they may have heard the Pope’s voice over loud speakers as he gave the day’s catechesis. Following is the English language summary of the general catechesis in Italian:

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“In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now turn to the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18: 9-14). Jesus contrasts the arrogance and self-righteousness of the Pharisee’s prayer with the tax collector’s humble recognition of his sinfulness and need for the Lord’s mercy.

“True prayer is born of a heart that repents of its faults and failings, yet pleads for the grace to live the great commandment of love of God and neighbor. Indeed, the proud disdain of the Pharisee for the sinner at his side pevents him from being righteous in God’s sight.

“To pray well, then, we need to look into our own hearts and, in humble silence, let the Lord speak to us there. The honesty and humility that God asks of us is the necessary condition for our receiving His mercy.

“The Blessed Virgin Mary is the model of such prayer. In her Magnificat, she tells us that God looks with favor on the humility of His servants, and hears their plea. May she, our Mother, help us to pray as we ought.”