Reflections by Patti Murphy Dohn on the Church, family, grief, saints, and hope amidst the storms in our lives... May you always find that God is in the clouds! 

Patti Murphy Dohn retired in 2014 after 33 years of service as Campus Minister, retreat director, and Religion teacher at The John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland. Committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth and their families, she has served the school community since 1981. Presently, she continues her ministry through bereavement outreach, coordinating the school's alumni prayer chain, while archiving the school's history.  

Patti was awarded the Medal of Honor in Youth and Young Adult Ministry by the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 2012. She served the Archdiocese on the Screening Board for the Office of Vocations under Cardinal Keeler, Cardinal O'Brien, and Archbishop Lori. She is also a past-board member for the Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat House in Sparks, MD. and Saint Margaret School in Bel Air.

Along with writing for "The Catholic Review," Patti is a member of the Catholic Press Association, as well as the Catholic Writers Guild and the Associated Church Press. She is available for speaking engagements, consulting, and retreat work.

Patti and her husband George split their time between their homes in Bel Air, Maryland and Singer Island, Palm Beach, Florida.

Email: pattimurphydohn@gmail.com

Twitter: @JCSMinistry

Facebook: Patti Murphy Dohn

Instagram: @PattiMurphyDohn

 God is good!! All the time!!

 

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Beautiful story! thank you for continuing to inspire us Patti.

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And your BFF didn't know this story? Great article to read. I,can envision it! What an amazing intuition you followed. Someday soon we will talk more!

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God is in the clouds

Catholic Throwback Thursday: A brief history of World Youth Day


The logo for the 2016 WYD in Kraków was designed by Monika Rybczyńska: Read about the symbolism in her design here.

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"You are the future of the world, you are the hope of the Church, you are my hope.”
—The greeting of Pope John Paul II to youth during his papal inauguration Mass on October 22, 1978

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In less than two weeks, hundreds of thousands of young people and youth ministers from all over the world will descend upon Kraków, Poland for World Youth Day 2016

The Archdiocese of Baltimore will be represented among the huge crowds. A delegation of 40 young adults, led by Father Matt Buening, Catholic chaplain at Towson University, as well as seminarians Matt Himes and Tyler Kline, will be in attendance. Local teen groups from Mount de Sales Academy and St. Mary’s Church, Annapolis are traveling to Poland as well. 

The Catholic Review will have up-to-date coverage each day from Maureen Cromer, who will blog about her experiences in “Pilgrims in Krakow.”  

Why Kraków?

The homeland of Pope Saint John Paul II is the perfect location for a celebration for World Youth Day (WYD) during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. This year’s theme, which was one of three Beatitude-inspired WYD themes announced by Pope Francis in 2013, is “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy." (Mt 5:7) 


During the 1983-1984 Holy Year of the Redemption (which marked 1950 years after Jesus’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection), as well as the 1985 United Nation’s International Youth Year, Pope John Paul II invited young people to come to Rome to pray with him each year on Palm (Passion) Sunday. Though organizers initially expected about 60,000 to attend, crowds ranged from 250,000 in 1984 to 300,000 in 1985. These youth from many nations, who gathered with the Holy Father at the Vatican, affirmed their desire to be actively connected to Christ and their Catholic faith.  

The next year, in December of 1985, Pope John Paul II announced the institution of local events, which he called “World Youth Days,” to be held on the diocesan level every Palm Sunday, commencing in 1986. The Holy Father would also attend international gatherings for WYD, to be held every two or three years in different countries which he would select. 

Pope John Paul II reflected on these early youth events in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1994):

“No one invented the World Youth Days. It was the young people themselves who created them.  Those days, those encounters, then became something desired by young people throughout the world. Most of the time these Days were something of a surprise for priests, and even bishops, in that they surpassed all their expectations."

International celebrations: 

The first international World Youth Day was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1987. Pope John Paul II also presided over seven more before his death in 2005. They were held in the following locations: 

  • Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 1989;
  • Częstochowa, Poland, 1991;
  • Denver, Colorado, 1993;  
  • Manila, Philippines, 1995;
  • Paris, France, 1997;
  • Rome, 2000 for the Jubilee Year;
  • Toronto, Canada, 2002;



Above: Then-Archbishop of Baltimore William H. Keeler took this photo in the helicopter with Pope John Paul II, who was praying his rosary when he sees the enormous crowd gathered in Cherry Creek State Park for the WYD-Denver closing Mass on Aug. 15, 1993.
He later told the youth there:
“Place your intelligence, your talents, your enthusiasm, your compassion and your fortitude at the service of life.”
(Photo by Archbishop W. H. Keeler)

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To the 800,000 youth gathered at the closing vigil in Toronto in 2002, which would be the last international WYD for Pope John Paul II:

“When, back in 1985, I wanted to start the World Youth Days… I imagined a powerful moment in which the young people of the world could meet Christ, who is eternally young, and could learn from him how to be bearers of the Gospel to other young people. This evening, together with you, I praise God and give thanks to him for the gift bestowed on the Church through the World Youth Days. Millions of young people have taken part, and as a result have become better and more committed Christian witnesses.” 

—Pope John Paul II, July 28, 2002, Toronto

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Pope Benedict and Pope Francis continue the legacy of WYD:

Four months after the death of Pope John Paul II in April 2, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI presided over World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany (August, 2005), followed by Sydney, Australia (2008), and Madrid, Spain (2011).



Pope Benedict greets the crowds after arriving at WYD in Madrid (AP photo).

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Pope Francis, who was elected in March of 2013 after the resignation of Pope Benedict, traveled to Rio de Janeiro just four months later for WYD (July, 2013). At the closing Mass at Copacabana beach, he joyfully announced that he would meet again with youth from all over the world for WYD 2016 in Kraków, Poland, the homeland of now-Saint John Paul II. 




Three million people gathered on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro for the closing Mass of WYD 2013 with Pope Francis.
(Photo: AP/ Felipe Dana)


WYD 2016 in Kraków:

According to Rome Reports, registrations for this upcoming WYD have been received from thousands of youth representing 107 countries, along with more than 10,000 priests, over 800 bishops and almost 50 cardinals. Poland, Italy, France, Spain, and the United States are the five countries with the most registrations. 

As Pope Francis prepares to join our young people in Kraków, organizers are expecting as many as 2 million to attend the overnight vigil and closing Mass on July 31.

These young people who gather in Kraków next week are in for one of the most exhilarating spiritual experiences of their lifetime. Not only will they meet people from around the world, attend catechetical sessions and Mass each day, but they will have countless opportunities to open their hearts to hear God’s call to live a life of mercy as they experience His love in new and profound ways. 

Let’s keep all the youth in our prayers.
God is good!





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Read more of my reminisces on World Youth Day here in:


July 14, 2016 01:59
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Catholic Flashback: Remembering the 1978 election of Pope St. John Paul II



October 16, 1978:
The first balcony appearance of newly-elected Pope John Paul II (CNS File Photo)


Where were you on October 16, 1978?

I was between classes at college in Philadelphia when word came through the hallways that white smoke had been seen coming from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.

After three days of waiting, we finally had a new pope! I rushed to turn on my tiny black and white TV, and watched as the crowds grew in St. Peter’s Square while commentators speculated as to which Italian cardinal might become the 264th leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

I will never forget the announcement in Latin that Cardinal Karol Jozef Wojtyla (1920-2005), at age 58, had been elected as the 263rd successor of St. Peter the Apostle. The news commentators were struggling to figure out who he was, from which country he came, and how to pronounce his name. 

You see, Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. Those reporting on the conclave from both the Catholic and secular press were all  assuming that this new pontiff would also be Italian. Instead, the College of Cardinals elected the Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, who had served in that position since 1963 and who was named a cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1967.


Ten interesting facts about the election of Pope John Paul II:

1. The Year of Three Popes:

This was the second time in less than eight weeks that Catholics from around the world gathered in front of our televisions to learn the outcome of a papal election. Called the “Year of Three Popes,” 1978 included the death of Blessed Pope Paul VI on August 6, the election of Patriarch of Venice Albino Luciani as Pope John Paul I on August 26, followed by his sudden death 33 days later on September 28. His pontificate is the shortest in our modern era. The Church and the world were stunned by the death of this new pontiff, as the College of Cardinals were called back to Rome for yet another conclave.

2. Who were the electors?

The conclave to elect Pope St. John Paul II began on October 14, 1978. Attending as electors were the 111 members of the College of Cardinals who had not yet reached age 80. 
The geographic breakdown includes: 25 cardinals from Italy, 30 more from other European nations, 12 Africa, 9 from Asia, and 4 from Oceania, 19 from South America, and 12 from North America.

3. The accommodations:

Garry O’Connor described the sparse living conditions of the cardinal-electors in his 2005 book, Universal Father: A Life of Pope John Paul II

“They expected it might take a long time to elect the next pope, while accommodation or cells were cast for by lot--some in poky little offices with unplugged and dead telephones, others in forty-foot high Renaissance reception salons They slept on 'a simple infirmary bed borrowed from the College of Propaganda Fidei; with a red-shaded lamp by the bed which was too faint to read by; a wash basin, soap (made by Donge of Paris) and Kleenex; a bucket for slops; a writing-table with note-paper and an ashtray, a prie-dieu'. Cardinal Siri of Genoa, a leading conservative, said 'It is like being buried alive', but the cautious, gentle Cardinal Hume of Westminster commented, 'Many people criticize the way a conclave is arranged, but it came to me that all these arrangements were symbolic--there was nothing between the cardinals and God. That seemed to me to be right.”
 

4. The voting:

As accounts of the three days of secret proceedings trickled out over the months and years that followed the conclave, we learned that two Italian cardinals, Archbishop of Genoa Giuseppe Siri and Archbishop of Florence Giovanni Benelli were in the forefront in the ballots, but neither was able to go ahead and reach the required two-thirds plus one majority vote (equalling 75 or more necessary for election).

On the second day of voting, Cardinal Wojtyla was suggested as a compromise candidate by Cardinal Franz König (1905-2004), then-Archbishop of Vienna. With a number of supporters from the camps of Cardinals Siri and Benelli, along with most of the American cardinals (led by Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia), Wojtyla was elected on the eighth ballot with 99 of the 111 votes. 

“With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and with trust in the Mother of Christ and the Church, in spite of great difficulties, I accept.”
—Cardinal Wojtyla upon learning that he had been elected in the 1978 conclave 

5. The new papal name:

Cardinal Wojtyla honored the brief legacy of his predecessor by adopting his name and becoming Pope John Paul II. 
Pope John Paul I had been the first pope to take two names upon his election. He adopted the pontifical names of his two predecessors who led the Church through the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965): Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) and Pope Paul VI (1963-1978).

6. The announcement:

Cardinal Pericle Felici (1911-1982) was the senior Cardinal-Deacon in 1978, and thus had the rare honor of making two papal introductions with the “Habemus papam” announcements for both Popes John Paul I and John Paul II. In the same capacity, Cardinal Felici had the privilege of bestowing to each of them the pallium at their papal inaugurations.

Cardinal Felici made the historic announcement for Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978 at 7:15 pm from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square:


“Anuntio vobis gaudium magnum:
HABEMUS PAPAM! 
Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,
Dominum Carolum Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Wojtyla
Qui sibi nomen imposuit Ioannis Pauli.”

(“I announce to you a great joy:
We have a Pope!
The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Lord,
Lord Karol Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church Wojtyla
Who took himself to the name John Paul.”

Videos:
Watch the announcement for Pope John Paul I here and Pope John Paul II here.


7. Reflections from Cardinal Wojtyla’s priest-secretary:

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz (born 1939) of Krakow, who had been serving as the priest-secretary of Cardinal Wojtyla since 1966, was with the growing crowds below in St. Peter’s Square awaiting the announcement. 

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, he recalled that many of the pilgrims who surrounded him thought the announced name sounded African. He noted that “protocol requires that before speaking, the new Pontiff should bestow a blessing in Latin, but the Polish Pope chose to speak first in Italian with a greeting that was historic: ‘I have been called from a faraway land…If I make a mistake, please correct me.”

Cardinal Dziwisz spoke of his close relationship with Wojtyla since he became his priest-secretary in twelve years prior: “That day (in 1966) I learned to be close to him. I did so for 39 years, first in Krakow and later in Rome. My clothes were soiled with his blood on May 13, 1981.  And I have again recalled the words he wrote for St. Stanislaw, the patron of Poland: ‘If the word does not convert, blood will.’  I was always close to Karol Wojtyla. Me, a priest caressed by a gift and a mystery.” 

8. The first words and blessing of Pope John Paul II:

After the announcement, the newly-elected Holy Father appeared on the balcony and spoke briefly in Italian, instead of the immediately delivering his first Urbi et Orbi blessing:

“Praised be Jesus Christ! Dear brothers and sisters, we are still all very saddened by the death of the very dear Pope John Paul I. And now the most eminent cardinals have called a new bishop of Rome. They called him from a far-away country...far, but always near in the communion of faith and the Christian tradition. I was afraid in receiving this nomination, but I did it in the spirit of obedience to Our Lord and with total trust in his Mother, the Most Holy Madonna. I don't know if I can express myself well in your – in our – Italian language. But if I make a mistake, you will correct me. And so I introduce myself to you all, to confess our common faith, our hope, our trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, and also to begin again on this path of history and of the Church with the help of God and with that of men.” 

9. Be Not Afraid!

Later that night, Pope John Paul II ate dinner with the cardinals before retiring to handwrite the homily with his famous words, “Be not afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ.” 


10. Memories from one of the cardinal-electors:

In a 2011 interview with Richard Allen Greene of CNN given the year before his death, 89-year old Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez (1922-2012), one of only five cardinal-electors from the 1978 conclave who was still alive, shared his memories of the election.

The Archbishop-Emeritus of San Juan, Puerto Rico recalled Wojtyla’s election as the most emotional moment of his life:

"We came to congratulate him, but when (Polish) Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski came to pay his respects, the pope stood up and went to him and embraced him. That for us was a terrific moment. We all cried.”

On electing a Polish pope, Cardinal Aponte noted:

"The electors were taking a chance, but they made a wonderful choice. He had suffered a good deal, he had been a prisoner of the Communists.” Aponte added that it helped his cause "that he came from a suffering country."



Cardinal Luis Aponte Martínez congratulates Pope John Paul II after his election on October 16, 1978
(Photo: Cardinal Aponte Collection)

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Enjoy this 24:50 minute video from CBS News:  “Pope John Paul II: The Surprising Election

https://youtu.be/e-neuwiRdUo


October 15, 2015 02:18
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Countdown to the visit of Pope Francis: Part 3: Papal visit merchandise, memorabilia, souvenirs, and keepsakes



Counting down:

 Just six days until Pope Francis arrives in the USA! 


Papal memorabilia galore:

If you are traveling in the vicinity of the cities that Pope Francis will visit next week, you will likely see lots of displays of souvenirs related to this first apostolic visit to the United States.

Memorabilia vendors are as varied as their offerings. There are official vendors authorized by the various dioceses and the 2015 World Meeting of Families. There are also unofficial outlets, many of which offer cheap trinkets at a low cost to make a fast buck. 
Pope Francis bobble heads, anyone?  

Serious collectors and those who wish to purchase gifts for lasting memories should look toward the official merchandise for sale on the official papal visit websites. These authorized vendors have a vast array of items, including rosaries, medallions, prayer cards, books, artwork, mugs, and apparel with official logos. 

Shop in person:

If you want to take a road trip to Philly in the next week or if you plan to attend either if the papal gatherings on September 26-27, you can shop in person. 

Aramark is the official vendor for the World Meeting of Families and the visit of the Holy Father to Philadelphia. They had a grand opening last Wednesday for their official World Meeting of Families merchandise shop in the Aramark Tower at 1101 Market Street in downtown Philly. 

According to their website, other locations will be open next week during the Congress and papal visit at the convention center, on Independence Mall on September 26, and on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 26-27. 

Official vendors will also be on-sight at locations near the papal events in New York City and Washington, D.C. 

Online purchases: 

For online purchases, the official catalog with over 200 commemorative items is available here

Proceeds will benefit the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015 and the visit of Pope Francis. 

For info on the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, visit their website here

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My collection of papal visit memorabilia:

Being an aficionado of anything related to Church history and the papacy, I have huge collection of papal memorabilia. I am also a Vatican philatelist with an enormous collection of stamp albums, first day covers, postcards, and Vatican yearbooks. 

So it shouldn't surprise you that I have lots of mementos from past papal visits to the United States. I gathered as many items from my collection as I could in 15 minutes and took photos to share. 


Above: From 1965:
Pope Paul VI was the first pontiff to visit our country. Though I didn't participate in this 14-hour visit, I have two books with lots of photographs and excellent coverage.

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Above: Pope St. John Paul II made seven trips to the United States during his 27-year pontificate.
Here are some of the many books that recap his visits.

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Above: 1979: 
The first time I saw Pope John Paul II was in Philadelphia during his very first visit to the USA. The Mass he celebrated on there Wednesday, October 3 was held in the same location where Pope Francis will say Mass on September 27. 

The third trip of his papacy (the first was to the Dominican Republic and Mexico; and the second was to his native Poland), it occurred exactly one year after the conclave which elected this pope who would become a saint.

Though I have a number of keepsakes from that historic week, including items from my volunteer work that week at the on-site Catholic Press office, I have only included three items here:
Souvenir edition of Newsweek magazine, the famous Pope John Paul II collectors edition comic book, and a signed copy of Pope John Paul II: A Festive Profile written by my college professor, Rev. Ludvik Nemec, who was an old friend of the Holy Father. 

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Above: World Youth Day 1993 in Denver was the occasion of another visit of Pope John Paul II. Though I did not attend since I had three young children, one of my John Carroll students, Kristy Manning, JC Class of 1996, won a contest and represented our school. Kristy was especially excited since she was not Catholic and loved our Holy Father. She had a wonderful experience with the youth celebration from St. Margaret Church in Bel Air, and brought me a gift to show her gratitude for my support in encouraging her to apply for the contest. The framed First Day covers, which were hand-stamped daily from August 12-15, were proudly displayed in my classroom and in my Campus Ministry office until I retired from John Carroll last year. When I see them, I think of Kristy and her experiences at World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II!

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Above: The 1995 visit of Pope St. John Paul II to Baltimore was one of the highlights of my life.
And my collection of mementos show it... 
A Religion teacher at John Carroll at that time, I was part of the committee that coordinated the service of our youth as city ambassadors and parade honor guard. 
My service allowed me to participate in the youth concert at Pier Six the night before the papal visit. Performers included Boyz II Men, Michael W. Smith, and Kathy Troccoli. 
The highlight, the Holy Father speaking live to the youth via satellite on the big screen from NYC,
"But the loudest cheer of the evening was reserved for a 75-year-old from Rome who wasn't even there, a transplanted Pole who closed the concert not with a song, but simply by telling the crowd by satellite that he was looking forward to his visit to Baltimore."

Seen from left: The official commentaries book from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, along with the video and the bumper sticker, the next week's edition of The Catholic Review with special section of papal coverage, the Gospel of John which was distributed to those who attended the Mass at Camden Yards, the Mass program and booklet "A Faith-filled Celebration," and the 1996 commemorative calendar.

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Above: Here's the colorful hat that my then-11 year old daughter Meighan got at the youth concert,
along with our Mass tickets, my staff badge, and the tickets, parking pass, and program
for the Departure Ceremony that my then-9 year old son Joseph and I attended at BWI airport
before the Holy Father departed for his return trip to Rome. 
Memories to last a lifetime!

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Above: 2008:
I was proud to lead four buses from our Archdiocese with the Harford County pilgrims who attended the Mass of Pope Benedict XVI at Yankee Stadium on April 15, 2008. The congregation of almost 60,000 people from every state in our country gathered to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of "the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville from the mother See of Baltimore."

Everyone who attended received a packet of materials which included the Gospel of Luke, the Catholic Digest, and a water bottle.

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Above: I collect Mass programs from historic occasions too:
Here's the Mass program from Holy Father Emeritus' Mass at Yankee Stadium and my family's tickets. 

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Above: People give me stuff... 

Over the years I have received a number of gifts of papal and church-related memorabilia from families who just don't know what to do with it anymore and don't want to discard it.

Here's an example of a framed certificate of authenticity from the Archdiocese of New York with a small section of carpet from formed a 1000-foot gold cross on the stage at the October 7, 1995 Mass of Pope John Paul on the Great Lawn of Central Park.

"A procession of 1600 church dignitaries filed over this monumental cross to offer communion to the more than 200,000 faithful who celebrated the historic Mass, the highlight of the Holy Father's 1995 World Tour."

Yes, I have this in my home office.
By all means, send your Church-related collectors' items my way!

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Do you have any interesting papal memorabilia?

I want to hear about it: 
Send me an email to: pattimurphydohn@gmail.com.

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Read more from my series on the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the United States:


Part 1 includes all the basics that you should know: 

Part 2 includes lots of memories from those who attended or participated in past papal visits to our country:

September 16, 2015 12:32
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Birthday blessings to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: A photo blog of his life since retirement from the papacy


Today is the 88th birthday of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

Born in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, Germany, on April 16, 1927, on my Grandmother’s sixth birthday, the former Joseph Ratzinger was elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II. Then 78 years old, the new Pope Benedict XVI became the oldest pope to serve the Church in 300 years.


Waving from the balcony of St Peter's Basilica after being elected in April 2005 (EPA Photo)

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Where were you…?

Where were you when you heard that news on February 11, 2013 that Pope Benedict XVI, at age 85, had announced that he would step down from the papacy citing a "lack of strength of mind and body due to advanced age” seventeen days later on February 28?

He shocked the world with this monumental announcement, making him the first pope to step down from his pontificate since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.


Announcing his resignation during a consistory with Vatican cardinals on February 11, 2013 (AP Photo)


“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God,
I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age
are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature,
must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering. 
“However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions
of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel,
both strength of mind and body are necessary-
strengths which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me
to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

--Pope Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013
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Pope Benedict XVI walks with his cane following his final general audience on Feb. 27, 2013.
(Photo: L’Osservatore Romano/CNS)

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Above: The final tweet of Pope Benedict XVI as @Pontifex: February 27, 2013

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Pope Benedict left the Vatican on February 28, 2013 by Italian air force helicopter, circling Rome during the sunset hour while bells rang out from St. Peter’s Basilica and from every church in the region.
He would spend the next three months at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo until the renovations were completed at his new home in the Vatican Gardens at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery.

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"I am a simple pilgrim who begins the last stage of his pilgrimage on this earth.
"With all my heart, with all my love, with my prayers, with my reflection, with all my interior strength, I still want to work for the common good and the good of the church and humanity.”

--Pope Benedict XVI to those gathered outside Castel Gandolfo on February 28, 2013

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Glimpses into the retired life of the Holy Father Emeritus:

So what has Pope Benedict been doing since his retirement?

He has kept a low profile with a quiet schedule during the past two years.

Here are some of the highlights:

First meeting of two living popes in modern times:


Just days after his election, Pope Francis traveled by helicopter from the Vatican for this private first meeting with the former pontiff on March 23, 2013 at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. During the visit, they prayed together and had lunch. Pope Francis gave his retired predecessor a gift, an icon of Mary and Jesus that the Russian Orthodox delegation to the inauguration had given him the previous week:

“They told me this was Our Lady of Humility. If I may say, I thought of you.
You gave us so many examples of humility and tenderness.”
--Pope Francis 
(CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

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Pope Francis welcomes Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI back to the Vatican
after two months at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo;
(Photo: Reuters/L'Osservatore Romano)

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Pope Francis visited the Holy Father Emeritus at his new home, the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on May 2, 2013.
(CNS/L'Ossevatore Romano via Reuters)

Living with Pope Benedict at the monastery will be his secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who also serves as prefect of the papal household to Pope Francis, along with four staff, all consecrated laywomen from Memores Domini. His home includes a chapel, library for his large book collection, and a guest room for his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger of their native Germany. 

The music room with piano is especially important to Pope Benedict, an accomplished pianist, who plays daily. His favorite composer is said to be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

“His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence.”
—Pope Benedict XVI on Mozart

Besides piano practice, the Holy Father Emeritus is said to spend his time in prayer, reading and study, in informal private meetings with friends and associates, and keeping up with the daily news from the L’Osservatore Romano and the evening news broadcast.

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A private concert was held on January 14, 2014 for the occasion of the 90th birthday of the brother of the Holy Father Emeritus, Msgr. George Ratzinger, the former music director of the Regensburger Domspatzen, the Boys’ Choir of the Cathedral in Regensburg.


“...the honor of a lifetime…”

Lauren Green, who serves as Fox News Channel's chief religion correspondent based in New York and has a degree in piano performance from the University of Minnesota, was the classical music pianist.

“To be asked to perform for the pope seemed like Divine intervention alone. But other things happened that convinced me God’s hand was in it, guiding my path.”

Read how Lauren Green knew it was “a God thing” in It was a God thing -- adventures in faith on the way to concert for Pope Benedict, his brother.” 

Watch this short video on the concert from "Rome Reports" here.

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Attending the Consistory in Saint Peter's Basilica on February 22, 2014 for the creation of 19 new cardinals:
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, age 86, embraced Pope Francis before the start of the consistory where these new members were elevated to the College of Cardinals.

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Sister Gisela Upunto Msuya, a Dominican nun from Same in East Timor, who studies at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) and lives in Rome, visited the Holy Father Emeritus on July 25, 2014. (Photo: Facebook)

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In his third public appearance since retirement, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI joined Pope Francis on September 28, 2014 for a celebration for grandparents and the elderly in St. Peter’s Square. (Photo: Reuters)

“He is discreet, humble, he doesn’t want to get in the way... It feels like having grandpa at home, because of his wisdom.
It does me good to listen to him. And it also encourages me a great deal.”

--Pope Francis said of his predecessor, noting that elderly persons transmit 'wisdom and faith, the most precious inheritance.’


Archbishop Georg Gangwein serves as the secretary to the retired Holy Father.

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Selfies with the Pope Emeritus:


This photo of the Holy Father Emeritus, at age 87, with seminarian Giuseppe Ricciardi
who hails from the southern Italian diocese of Aversa was posted on Twitter:

"Ecco il primo #selfie in assoluto del #Papa Emerito #BenedettoXVI, in compagnia di Giuseppe Ricciardi di Aversa." pic.twitter.com/ejZFJcXjnW

— Gianluca Barile (@GianlucaBarile1) on September 11, 2014

English translation:

"Here is the first #selfie ever of #Papa Emeritus #BenedettoXVI, in the company of Giuseppe Ricciardi of Aversa." 

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Shortly thereafter, Gianluca Barile (@GianlucaBarile1) tweeted a second selfie of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, this time standing with Italian priest Fr. Sebastiano Sequino.

"Non c'è uno senza due! Ecco il secondo selfie di oggi di #Papa #BenedettoXVI, stavolta con Don Sebastiano Sequino." pic.twitter.com/lYEc66vseZ

— Gianluca Barile (@GianlucaBarile1) September 11, 2014

English translation:

“There’s two, not just one!
This is the second selfie from today of Pope Benedict XVI, this time with Father Sebastiano Sequino” 

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI exchanging the Sign of Peace with cardinals during the Beatification Mass for Blessed Pope Paul VI. This liturgy was celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square on October 19, 2014.

(Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

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Archbishop of Panama Jose Domingo Ulloa, with Bishop David Bishop, Monsignor José Luis Lacunza, and women from their delegation meet with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on November 19, 2014 at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery. 

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This year's Epiphany/ birthday visit for the brothers:

Msgr. Georg Ratzinger flew from Munich to Rome on December 29, 2014 to visit with his brother, the Holy Father Emeritus, until January 16. They would celebrate Msgr. Ratzinger's birthday, now the 91st, there again at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.


This year’s celebration included another concert, with music by Il Trio Böhm, held in the same room at Vatican Radio as the 90th birthday concert the previous year.
The chamber musicians were Michela Berti paying flute, Claudio Cavallaro on the clarinet, and  Daniele Veroli playing the horn.

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI again attended the consistory held this year on February 14, 2015 for the creation of 20 new cardinals
(AP Photo)

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The Archbishop of Lviv Mieczysław Mokrzycki, took his brother bishops to meet Benedict at the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens on February 21, 2015 while on their ad limina visit to Rome. The Archbishop served as second secretary to St. John Paul II and also to Pope Benedict XVI until he was appointed Archbishop of Lviv in western Ukraine. Pope Benedict ordained him to the bishopric in St. Peter's Basilica and now invited the Archbishop to lunch at the monastery and expressed a wish to meet his brother bishops.

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Birthday blessings:

For his 88th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI will once again enjoy the company of his brother, Msgr. Ratzinger, for a ten-day visit.


Fond memories:

The Holy Father celebrated his 81st birthday at the White House with President and Mrs. Bush on April 16, 2008 during his pastoral trip to the United States.

Ad multos annos!!

April 16, 2015 04:31
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Music Monday: Children’s choir sings “Hallelujah” as Pope Francis prays for peace in the Holy Land



“Inside every Christian, there is a Jew.” --Pope Francis


This weekend’s pilgrimage of Pope Francis to the Holy Land to pray for peace comes fifty years after the historic visit to Jerusalem of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople in 1964.


 

Historic meeting on Jan. 8, 1964, on the Mount of Olives: Marking the first meeting between leaders of Eastern and Western churches since the Schism of 1054.



Pope Francis prayed yesterday with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Stone of Unction at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.



Calling for peace at Mass at Manger Square in Bethlehem on the West Bank (Photo: Melanie Lidman)


Calling on the Prince of Peace:

Praying and calling for peace and understanding at every opportunity, the Holy Father, during his homily at Sunday Mass in Bethlehem, invited Israeli and Palestinian leaders to meet June 6 at the Vatican.

“In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace. I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer.”

 “All of us -- especially those placed at the service of their respective peoples -- have the duty to become instruments and artisans of peace, especially by our prayers… Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment.”


"Hallelujah"

A children’s choir sang a most beautiful “Hallelujah” cover earlier this morning to welcome the Holy Father. May their sung prayers for peace blend with those of all of us who pray with them around the world.




 

Video from Rome Reports


Memorial Day:

As we here in the United States remember all those who gave their lives to preserve our freedom as a nation, may we live each day with a focus on the words attributed to the saint for whom the Holy Father took his name: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.”

Amen.




May 26, 2014 09:47
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Music Monday: Tap dancing deacons from the Pontifical North American College


If you need a smile on your face to start the new week, check out this footage posted from the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

Two deacons who are studying there did a tap dancing duel after a small chorus sang "Give My Regards to Broadway" at the April 30 Annual  Rector's Dinner. An appreciative audience of seminarians, priests, bishops, cardinals, and laity tapped their own feet and pulled out their phones to record the merriment.

When in Rome... 

Enjoy and have a great week!!



May 04, 2014 10:18
By Patti Murphy Dohn


Easter Sunday at the Vatican: He is risen, Alleluia!!


Happy Easter and many blessings from Rome!!

Easter morning:

The sound of people making their way to St. Peter's Square outside our hotel windows at the Palazzo Cardinal Cesi just after 6 a.m. "encouraged" us to skip breakfast and head out earlier than we had planned. We approached the piazza only to discover that the quickly-growing queues were not allowed to enter until 8 a.m. Hurry up and wait, right? That's exactly what we did for over an hour.

I had to keep looking up at the basilica dome and the statues of the apostles in an attempt to not think about the enormous number of people crowding in around us. When security finally started letting people in at 7:55, there was an enormous crush with the massive crowds trying to get into single opening metal detectors from every possible direction. It was overwhelming to say the least.

Once through, we worked our way to the reserved area where our early start gained us chairs on the center aisle. We were not as close as during the Wednesday audience, but we were indeed lucky to get seats at all, considering the enormous crowds on this bright and sunny Easter morning.

There were people of all ages and races, speaking so many different languages, many carrying banners and flags. There were nuns in religious habits of all styles, and priests and seminarians in cassocks and religious robes from many different orders among the crowds.

The liturgical practice with Msgr. Guido Marini for those participating that morning began at 8:30. The choirs also started warming up. 

During the three hours that we waited in queues and at our seats for the 10:15 Mass, I could see people in every corner and from every angle of St. Peter's Square. It was truly a representation of the Universal Church. Fox News later estimated the crowds to number 150,000, but my friends who work at the Vatican said that it could have easily been over 250,000. (Next Sunday's numbers for the canonizations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII could be well over one million in attendance.)

The rosary and processions of the Swiss Guard:

Around 9:45, greetings for Easter were extended over the speakers throughout the piazza, with an invitation to join in the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary in Latin. Perhaps you could not see this on EWTN's live broadcast, but midway through the second mystery, music was heard in the distance growing louder and louder. After the next Ave Maria, the rosary stopped completely as we could see the Swiss Guard marching in formation in full ceremonial attire, led by their corps of musicians into the piazza from the Santa Anna Gate. It was spectacular for those able to see and hear. 

After they took their places to the left side facing the altar, the recitation of the rosary resumed. But wait... more music was soon heard and more Swiss Guards marching in formation processed through St. Peter's Square to the right side facing the altar. It was magnificent!! 

The rosary was never finished, as the cues on timing must have gotten mixed, and Mass was about to start. Those near the front definitely had a treat in witnessing this twice-annual solemn procession of the Swiss Guard, done only on Christmas and Easter.


Pope Francis on the steps before the altar at the beginning of Mass.

A "small world" story:

Ironically, my husband and I were seated at Mass next to two teens from another high school named for my school's patron, Archbishop John Carroll. It was not until Holy Communion when I saw and greeted a young man wearing a "Bishop Carroll High School" jacket, that one of the young men next to us told me they were part of that Canadian school's band, and were traveling and performing in various Italian towns. 

Popemobile ride through the piazza:

After Mass, the Holy Father hopped on the Popemobile for a fast loop around St. Peter's Square. They were being very time-conscious since he had to be up on the high balcony over the basilica for the 12 noon Urbi et Orbi ("To the city and to the world") message and blessing which was broadcast across the globe.


I went to the back of the seated area, facing the standing-only sections, to get this photo which really shows the huge crowds spread throughout St. Peter's Square. Notice that Pope Francis is riding in a completely open jeep, even the front windshield is down flat. 


From the front of my section facing the altar area and basilica.


Pope Francis looked so tiny when he came out onto the balcony over St. Peter's Basilica for the Urbi et Orbi message and blessing. It put into better perspective how truly massive is this largest church in the world. I also realized how it must have looked when he was presented to the crowds gathered there after his election last March. 

Heading home:

We are heading back to Maryland on Easter Monday after 12 amazing days in Italy. I so enjoyed sharing the daily "Buon giorno, Italia" journal and photos from the first week with my students.  

During the days that followed, my husband and I extended for five extra days near the Vatican after they departed. We kept busy with special tours, Vatican events, good food and wine, and some once-in-my-lifetime opportunities. I have lots of photos and great stories to share with you after the jet lag wears off.

Arriverderci, Roma!! We loved every minute!!

April 21, 2014 03:51
By Patti Murphy Dohn