This weekend pilgrims from around the world, and yes, even from St. Louis, have gathered in Rome for the canonization Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. These two new saints of the Church have, in one way or another, touched all of our lives since the late 1950's until 2005.
When making my First Holy Communion, a gift I received was a picture of then-Pope John XXIII from my godparents since he was the pope at that time. Since then that picture has always been a part of my life, sitting on the shelf at college, through my days in the seminary and even today, that picture sits on a shelf where I can see it from my writing desk. I look upon that picture and I remember a pope known for his humble beginnings, his laughter, for convening the Second Vatican Council, but above all for his great love for the poor. Perhaps this is why Pope John XXIII is so often referred to as the "Good Pope."
Pope John Paul II was pope for twenty-seven years, during which time he became the most widely traveled pope. I had the privilege of meeting Pope John Paul II on two occasions: the first time in New Orleans when he visited the Untied State in September 1987. Then, when he made his pastoral visit to St. Louis in January 1999. He will be remembered for calling the first World Youth Day, and for the fall of communism.
I hope we will give thanks to almighty God this weekend for these two new saints who continue to intercede on our behalf, and for all the faithful.
Also, this weekend we kick off the Annual Catholic Appeal in our parish and throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I am very proud of our parishioners who sacrifice to help us meet our goal each year for this campaign. I am proud, not because of meeting the goal set for us, but, that we are willing to make necessary sacrifices so that others can have their needs met. The work of the ACA is humbling, and it is so varying to meet the needs of so numerous people, from the very young to the very old. I thank Dee Brockman and Felice Nighbor for co-chairing the campaign in the parish this year.
Related to the ACA campaign we welcome Ms. Jennifer Duncan, a teacher at Bishop DuBourg High School, this weekend in the parish who will speak with us about the work of the ACA within Bishop DuBourg High School. Next weekend we will view the ACA video concerning the campaign and ongoing work of the ACA.
Lastly, I mention to you what some of you may have already heard, and that is, I will be leaving the Office of Sacred Worship come this June. I will have completed fourteen, just beginning my fifteenth, years of service in this position, and I leave with many happy memories of the people I've worked with over the these years, and the work I've been privileged to complete on behalf of Christ's Church. During my tenure I served under Archbishop Rigali, Archbishop Burke and Archbishop Carlson, and I offer my gratitude and prayers to them for allowing me this honor. I offer my sincere appreciation to all who have assisted me with the various programs, events and workshops out of the Office of Sacred Worship, for I have learned a long time ago, no one accomplishes so much work by oneself.
As we continue the work of the risen Christ in this Easter season, let us remember... "All that matters in any and every way Christ is being proclaimed."
Monsignor William McCumber