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The motto of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical is Repair My Church.

Order of Franciscans Ecumenical Blog 

A Ministry of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical​ (OFE)

Opinions expressed in this Blog do not necessarily represent views of the Bishop of OFE,  Abbot General of the OFE, the OFE Board, the Abbey Board, the OFC Advisory Board, or any other members of OFE, OFES, COFE, Sanctification of Families Union of Saint Francis of Assisi, Theotokos Association of Catholic Priests,  and OFE Charters.
 

. . . “in the name of the whole Church.”

Priesthood
 
By Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE
 
“Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the “one mediator between God and men.” The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek”; “holy, blameless, unstained,” “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,” that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1544)
 
 “The ministerial priesthood has the task not only of representing Christ – Head of the Church – before the assembly of the faithful, but also of acting in the name of the whole Church when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1552)
 
“The divinely instituted ecclesiastical ministry is exercised in different degrees by those who even from ancient times have been called bishops, priests, and deacons. Catholic doctrine, expressed in the liturgy, the Magisterium, and the constant practice of the Church, recognizes that there are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyterate.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1554)
 
“It is in the Eucharistic cult or in the Eucharistic assembly of the faithful (synaxis) that they exercise in a supreme degree their sacred office; there, acting in the person of Christ and proclaiming his mystery, they unite the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice of the New Testament, that namely of Christ offering himself once for all a spotless victim to the Father.” From this unique sacrifice their whole priestly ministry draws its strength.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1566)


What Are Bishops Responsible For?

Bishops have three main responsibilities:
 
To Teach.  A bishop is the principal teacher in his diocese and has a responsibility to preach the Word of God to his people. He must ensure that those delegated to teach in his name, namely priests, teachers, catechists and others, teach the truth.
 
To Govern. This refers to meeting the needs of the local community (material, social, personal and spiritual) as well as ensuring that church laws are observed. He is ultimately responsible for training and supplying priests for parishes, for the finances of the diocese and for all church property. A bishop has the power to make church laws, be a judge in church matters and to enforce observance of these laws. These laws generally relate to worship, preaching, administration of the sacraments, safeguarding the faith and morals of the faithful and religious instruction.
 
To Sanctify.  A bishop is responsible for ensuring that the sacraments are administered and has the special authority to ordain priests and to confirm. It is usually the case, then, for a bishop to ordain the priests who are to serve in his diocese and to travel around the diocese and administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. He must also ensure that mass is celebrated in the diocese every Sunday and on major feast days.


Ministry, Mission, and Service of Married Priests

Canonical Basis for Married Roman Catholic Priests to Function in Danger of Death Situations:
 

The information posted will serve several purposes:

1) a reminder to married Roman Catholic priests that there are some canonically supported ministries in which they may participate;
2) provide information to laity who may be otherwise uninformed;
3) provide assurance to all that these functions are canonically supported.
 
As members of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, we recognize and respect the authority of local bishops and the entire Roman Catholic hierarchy, including, and especially, the pope.
 
The decisions of OFE members to enter into marriages did not, and do not, eliminate the desire to serve the people of God, and it is disappointing to be unable to do what we feel we have been called to do.
 
Under discussion here is the valid sacramental function of married priests in certain situations that are allowed under canon law.  Whereas there are canons that support performance of some priestly functions merely upon request by lay Christians, the focus here is on sacramental functions at times when there is danger of death.
 
It is important that canon law be cited accurately and within context, and that interpretation and commentary be done by Roman Catholic scholars, theologians, and canon lawyers.  Such will be the case here.
 
To provide the basis for discussion of valid priestly functions when there is danger of death, pertinent canons and commentary are presented here as links to information that has been posted on the OFE website. All of it is comprised of canons and/or commentary by canon lawyers.  It may be helpful to review that information before continuing with this article. Those links will remain on the website for use as a reference.  They are:
 
New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law Click Here

The Pastoral Companion: A Canon Law Handbook for Catholic Ministry Click Here

Periculum Mortis, Danger of Death in Church Law Click Here

Canonical Reflection on Pastoral Emergency and the Use of Married Priests in the Catholic Church Click Here
A Question of Rights Click Here

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Centuries of Meditations

Centuries of Meditations

By Reverend Friar Leonard Edward Schmidt, OFE
 
My purpose is to share with the reader the spiritual insights I received from reading “Centuries of Meditations” and to share what I have experienced on the path to felicity (happiness) with Thomas Traherne. The following has been gleaned from Centuries 2: 97-100 and Centuries 3: section 1.
 
When in the Kingdom of God, there is no possibility for man to sin in the presence of God, because no person can sin that sees the beauty of God in front of him and no person can sin against his own happiness. Right now we see only “His face in a glass” and therefore we are only living in a mirror like reality. Our goal at this point is to live and using our imagination, with this glory in our mind, be intent in our desires to reach our destiny and see His glory with our own eyes. We have the choice to sin or to be holy – but if we ponder our destiny and remember that we can be heirs – who would choose to sin? We are challenged to imagine as young children are able to imagine that in holding a doll, they are mothers. We adults should work in our lives, to imagine our life in Heaven which then lifts us to live a sublime and honorable life of holiness on earth. (Century 2: section 97)
 
Living with Heaven in mind “makes him sensible of the reality of Happiness: it feeds him with contentment and fills him with gratitude, it delivers him from the love of money which is the root of all evil, it causes him to reign over the perverse customs and opinions that are in the world.” (section 98)
 
Different philosophers claim that felicity can be found in honor, pleasure, riches, as well as the contempt of riches, honor and pleasure, in wisdom, in firm stability of mind, in contemplation or in action, in rest or in suffering or in victory and triumph. (section 99)
 
Today’s philosophers, like Albert Camus or Jean-Paul Sartre, find felicity in the realization that life is absurd. The action of the Greek God Sisyphus who is condemned by Zeus for a misdemeanor, is to roll a round boulder up a mountain and upon reaching the top he seems to fail and allows the rock to roll down. So, he has to go down and start all over again!
 
There is no stopping his action and he keeps repeating this action infinitely over and over and over again. That is his punishment for some misdemeanor. Life is sort of meaningless and therefore happiness is unattainable.
 

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Petition

Save my Church and restore married priesthood / optional celibacy back into the Roman Catholic Church

By Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE
 
The Church is suffering within its own ranks. On the grassroots level, we meet priests who live in grief and sometimes in poverty. We welcome Pope Francis acknowledging in Amoris Laetitia that “we could draw from the experience of the broad oriental tradition of a married clergy.”
 
The mission of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc. (OFE) is to minister to celibate married Roman Catholic (and Catholic) priests by offering them a welcoming home, support, acceptance, affirmation of their marriages, and validation of their lives and ministries. It also supports efforts to restore married priesthood to the Roman Catholic Church. Canon Laws 212 §2 and §3 tell us that we have the duty to express our views about the Church’s “matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful.” Men who have left the priesthood to marry are made to feel that they failed merely because they wanted the fulfillment of wives and families of their own. Sadly, they have become disheartened by the Church’s abandonment.
 
All of us have seen how many good priests have been dismissed because they chose to love a woman and have a family. Most of them have to find other work to support their families. Those who could not find work often have been pushed into poverty and suffered emotionally because of the treatment they have received from the Church.
 
Countless people in the pews have let it be known that they want a priest – married or celibate, it matters little – who will be compassionate about their life issues. Many would welcome a move of the Church to allow married priests back into active priesthood. If the Church is willing to welcome married Episcopal priests into our Church, surely you should be open to accepting former and now married Roman Catholic priests.
 

Petition Link Click Here



Who is Holy Theotokos Saint Mary?

Holy Theotokos (“God-bearer”) Saint Mary
 
“Saint Mary the Virgin is the Mother of God; Theotokos. (Luke 1:43). She was the seed of David (Romans 3:1); the bride-to-be of Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25); kinswoman of Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:36); attended to ceremonial purification (Luke 2:22-38); fled into Egypt with Joseph and Jesus (Matthew 2:13-15); lived in Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23); took twelve-year old Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-50); at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11); concerned for Jesus’ safety (Matthew 12:46, Mark 3:21-31, Luke 8:19-21); at the cross where she was entrusted by Our Lord Jesus Christ to care of John the Evangelist (John 19:25-27); in the Upper Room with the disciples where the Holy Spirit came down upon them (Acts 1:14).” (Cf. Saint Mary & Saint Moses Abbey, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States, Sandia, Texas, USA)


Advocate for Married Roman Catholic Priesthood

Theotokos Association of Catholic Priests
 
The Theotokos Association of Catholic Priests is an organization that welcomes ordained and non-ordained women and men and organizations who advocate for married Roman Catholic priesthood, and who support the goals, mission, charism (gift), and apostolic works of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc., and the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc., with prayer, time, talent, wisdom, encouragement, and treasure.
 
All priests and friends (persons and/or organizations) are invited to become members of the Theotokos Association of Catholic Priests. 
 
Blessings,
 
Abbot Father Michael, OFE
Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo, OFE, DD, STD, PhD
Website Link Click Here


Confraternity of Prayer

Sanctification of Families Union of Saint Francis of Assisi
 
“In leading family life and in educating children married clergy are to show an outstanding example to other Christian faithful.” (Cf. 1990 Code of Canons of Oriental Churches, Canon, n. 375)
 
The Sanctification of Families Union of Saint Francis of Assisi is an international confraternity of prayer and ministry of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc., Order of Franciscans Ecumenical Secular, Order of Franciscans Culdee, Catholic Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, and Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc.  It is comprised of priests, religious and laity who commit to prayer for the sanctification of families and of married Roman Catholic priests are welcome as members.
 
“…many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “The written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.” Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.” (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 819)
 
Blessings,
 
Abbot Father Michael, OFE
Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo, OFE, DD, STD, PhD
Website Link Click Here                                     


Sacrifice in Suffering

Sacrifice in Suffering
By Most Reverend Anthony A.M. Pearson, COFE
 
Most believers have, at one time or another, questioned why they are suffering. This is especially true when they are in the midst of a trial, test, or other suffering, or having to watch their loved ones’ suffering.  Is God mad at us, so much so that he afflicts us or those we love?  Are we weak in faith? Is God punishing me for it? The answer is plainly taught in Scripture.  Of course, the heretical “Health & Wealth” gospel preachers pathologically heap guilt on us, stating that if we’re suffering it’s because we don’t have enough faith or that it must be God’s punishment for some sin we’re hiding. They’re wrong!
 
“There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely in this obscurity; it has suffered: for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable, than that of rejoicing and of action. In suffering God gives strength, but in action and in joy the soul does but show its own weakness and imperfections. And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue, and becomes purer, wiser, and more cautious.” (St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, 149)
 
Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, Christians are called to suffer. It is the best seminary education we could ever receive. It’s the closest we will ever walk with Christ Jesus in this life! And it is in the furnace of life and on the anvil of heartbreak that God forges His tempered saints into instruments He can use. I know, because I have, am now, and will continue to be in that furnace that burns away dross, consumes weakness, and hardens brittle self-focus, leaving behind a glimmering weapon of our authentic self – forged in God’s image.
 
Out of sufferings great saints were formed. Out of trials, testing, and sufferings, we become one with the Lord of sufferings who was the “Man of Sorrows, Acquainted with Grief,” who shows us the way of suffering and how we are to handle it.  “Love proves itself by deeds, and how shall I prove mine? … I can prove my love only by scattering flowers, that is to say, by never letting slip a single little sacrifice, a single glance, a single word; by making profit of the very smallest actions, by doing them all for love. I want to suffer and even rejoice for love, for this is my way of scattering flowers.” — (St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul, 4-5)
 
We read this exhortation from God through St. Peter, a man well acquainted with both our Lord’s sufferings and his own terrible sufferings. He is writing to the Church Militant, sorely afflicted in the sufferings of Nero.  They were persecuted, prosecuted, tortured, violated, humiliated, taunted, fed to wild animals, and treated as a public spectacle for the gory, blood soaked, cruel “enjoyment and entertainment” of the pagan crowds!
 
Men and women, boys and girls, infants and the elderly, pregnant women and very ill, all were treated as vermin!
 
To this suffering Church the first Bishop of Rome communicated exhortation and encouragement. In 1 Peter 2:21-23 we read, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on His lips. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten; but He trusted to Him who judges justly.” (RSVCE)

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Meditation

Commentary on Section/Meditation 61
From Thomas Traherne’s book “Centuries of Meditations”
By Reverend Friar Leonard Edward Schmidt, OFE
 
When we contemplate the cross, we may receive the inspiration that brings up the topic of zeal, holiness, or self-denial, etc. If we achieve this insight of a connected value to the cross, we are then happy, full of felicity.
 
Jesus gave an example of living out his zeal in doing the will of his Father through his obedience to substitute the sacrifice of animals (the Covenant of Moses) with the eternal sacrifice on the cross. In other words, creating a second Covenant – a Covenant of Jesus. The Covenant of Jesus was wider-reaching than the sacrifice of animals. For example, the sin offering was offered for individual sin while the sacrifice of Jesus atoned for the sins of the entire world.
 
Jesus also was holy because he was obeying the will of his Father.  He achieved holiness by his act of self-denial. In other words, he denied himself by refusing to escape his suffering.
 
We can apply the same procedure of connective thoughts to the remaining words starting with “patience” and ending with “thanksgiving” in Section/Meditation 61.
 
Taking another three virtues: modesty, perseverance, and thanksgiving, we can see how Jesus lived these out in his life. With modesty, he had to reveal to the disciples his role as the Son of God, but it needed to be done in a way that they would be ready for. They would not have been able to accept all the teachings at one time without the proper preparation as well as the graces they received over time. Jesus persevered with them throughout his time on earth, and taught them the importance of persevering through many challenges. This, of course, leads to success in the outcome of our undertakings which ultimately results in thanksgiving! We can be thankful for the graces which allow for perseverance and up with happiness.
 
Similarly, the rest of Traherne’s words in this paragraph can be connected to the cross felicitously by attaining the joy of understanding.
 
(Cf. United In Spirit: OFE Newsletter, January 2017, Vol. 2, Issue 1​)
 
Notes: Thomas Traherne (ca. 1636-1674) was an Anglican priest, a mystic, an English poet and religious writer. Christian Classics Ethereal Library Intern Andrew Hanson concluded, “God displays his power in the immensity, complexity, and beauty of his    creation. Thomas Traherne, in his Centuries of Meditations, showcases his deep love for God’s creative powers. The poetry in Centuries has a childlike humility in the face of God’s glory. While living at a time where God’s wrath and humanity’s sin were the main topics of theological conversation, Traherne writes poetry that looks at the beauty of God and His goodness. His poetry is not just good Christian poetry, but good poetry that is appreciated by Christian and secular poetry lovers alike.”


“in order to serve”

Transitional Deacon
 
By Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE​ 
 
“The divinely instituted ecclesiastical ministry is exercised in different degrees by those who even from ancient times have been called bishops, priests, and deacons.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1554)
 
“At a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands ‘not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry.”‘ At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon’s special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his “diakonia.”” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1569)
 
“Deacons share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint (“character”) which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the “deacon” or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1570)
 
On April 23, 2019, Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo+, OFE celebrated his 33rd anniversary of his diaconate ordination. He  was ordained by Bishop Phillip Francis Straling, DD, Diocese of San Bernardino, San Bernardino, CA, USA.
 
Photo: Saint Deacon Stephen was traditionally venerated as the protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity.


Married Priesthood

Married Priesthood
By Reverend Father Paul Ochieng-Ogada, DMB
(Cf. United In Spirit: OFE Newsletter, October 2017, Vol. 2, Issue 2)
 
Saint Peter was married, Saint Paul celibate, and the early church flourished. Both married and celibate priests were common until 12th century when celibacy became mandatory, both married priesthood are gifts to the church.
 
In 2006, an international study I published with the Society of Jesus, Ak Hern of Kenly Foundation found wide-spread support among Catholic laity for married priests: in Spain 80%, USA 82%, Italy 67%, Poland 60%. The same study found significant support (68-80%) for ordaining women.
 
The Catholic church is the only Christian denomination in the United States that has a shortage of clergy. We already have married priests and women deacons in the Catholic church. Eastern rites of Catholicism permit priests to marry. In the US, there are over 300 married priests. It’s felt that God is calling our original tradition. It’s time the church granted women equality for pastoral service. In fact, many married priests and their wives minister as couples. History fully supports a married priesthood. For the first 1200 years of the church existence, priests, bishops, and 39 Popes were married. Celibacy existed in the first century among hermits and monks, but it was considered an optional alternative lifestyle. In 1993 Pope John Paul II publicly said that celibacy is not essential to the priesthood. Married priests and their wives were the first pastors, the first bishops, first missionaries. They carried the message of Jesus across cultures and protected it. Life was met
by joyful expectations, Jesus said he would return, and the first Christians believed that it would be soon. Led by married priests, they met at each other’s homes to celebrate the Mass. Strangers were invited to share bread and wine, no one was excluded from receiving Communion, they soon became friends, joined the church and brought others to hear the good news of Jesus. Presently, in the US there are over 250 former Lutheran and Episcopal ministers serving as married priests after converting to Catholicism. Presently the Armenian Church has at least four women deacons. Pope Paul VI and John Paul II signed documents recognizing the apostolic succession and validity of Armenian Catholic sacraments. The steadily worsening priest shortage and some of the worst sexual conduct of present priest requires us to look at other options for preserving Eucharistic heritage.
 
The laity have a canonical right and obligation to speak about optional celibacy and women’s roles. Authority is vested in us through our baptism and confirmation; we have the duty to explore different ways to ensure the church remains healthy. Canon 212 tells us we have the right and obligation to make our views known on matters which concern the good of the church. We need to return to the early church custom of having women deacons. We look forward at Holy Apostles Monastery to our full reinstatement when the man-made law of celibacy is rescinded. God is calling us back to original tradition, open your hearts and eyes to God’s voice.


Plight of African Children

Plight of African Kenyan Children & God’s Call to Us

By Reverend Father Paul Ochieng-Ogada, DMB  

Dear Readers, Holy Apostles Monastery is in historic times, and God has been speaking to me about the books of Esther and Jeremiah.  Oftentimes, we cannot see the forest for the trees, meaning that sometimes we are so focused on what is immediately in front of us that we cannot perceive the absolute wonder of what the Spirit of the Lord is saying.
 
You have been raised up for such a time as this; you have a job to do for Jesus, a divine opportunity.  Like Joseph, who was in the spirit because he was on his way to the palace, your own time for “divine favor” has come. Joseph’s purpose was not for Pharaoh; it was for God’s people.  Esther’s assignment was to preserve God’s people, not the king. The kingdoms and nations of this world will be the kingdom of our God.  Things are about to shift – a time of transition.  When you understand who you are, you begin to see and understand the purpose that you serve.  You are put into position in order to carry out a plan.
 
Prayer is key and vital to your plan.  Do not forsake the ministry of prayer; do not take lightly the corporate gathering.  God has commissioned you to bring forth his plan; you are pregnant with purpose.  God has a plan for you to break out and break through.  Don’t be afraid; look into the future with confidence.  Prayer helps us to determine the direction we need to go and to lead us into the ministries that are essential in our roles to serve God through serving those in need, near and far.
 
The drumbeat, poems, songs, drama, and sporting activities have masked the underlying structural challenges innocent Kenyan children face in their daily lives.  Kenya is arguably the richest nation in East Africa, but spoiled by wicked political leadership. This beautiful country is endowed with a vast array of natural resources, such as gold, platinum, beautiful wild animals, lakes, and beautiful blue skies, yet it is a country where children have become an endangered species who, instead of being viewed as the future, are now tottering on the brink of being the disposable.  It is with a tinge of sadness that I realize that Kenya leads in infant mortality rate.  A disturbingly high number of Kenyan children have poor access to health care which, in many cases, has resulted in children succumbing to diseases that are easily prevented or treated in other continents, such as America and Europe.   Kenyan children are more likely to be born with HIV/AIDS related diseases and have for many years succumbed to diseases of poverty, such as kwashiorkor, marasmus, and rickets.  It is a common occurrence for Kenyan children not to even afford a decent meal, unlike their counterparts in other continents.  Holy Apostles Monastery missionaries see the highest number of children with little or no access to a sound educational infrastructure and information technology, both at school and at home.
 
This situation is so dire that, out of our own poverty, the love of Christ Jesus compels us to help them through the help of others, that is, through your help. While it is natural that we want to care for those close around us, it is important that we recognize that Kenyan children do not have even a fraction of the assistance available to children in wealthier nations.  It is my prayer that you will find in your heart the desire to help those who may be far away, but who are in the very greatest need.  It is a true reflection of the ministry that we are called to through Christ Jesus. 
 
Your prayers and contributions are true blessings,
 
Abbot Father Michael+, OFE
Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo+, OFE, DD, STD, PhD
Website Link Click Here


Repair My Church

The motto of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical is repair my church.
In 1206, Jesus came to Saint Francis of Assisi and speaking through the icon Cross of San Damiano, told him: “Francis, Francis, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.”
 
Today, we are faced with a Church “falling into ruins.” Like Saint Francis of Assisi, I believe Pope Francis also received the divine call to repair, heal, revitalize, recharge, and renew the universal Church, the pilgrim People of God.
 
The Gospel of Matthew reassures us: “I shall be with you until the end of time”. (Matthew 28:20).


He Is Risen

“Accept the risen Jesus into your life. Even if you have been far away, take a small step towards him. He awaits you with open arms.” (Pope Francis)




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