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A message from Bishop Sullivan: “The Francis Effect”

There is talk of a “Francis Effect” as a follow up from the visit of our Holy Father. As he departed Philadelphia, the pope said, “May our days together bear fruit that will last, generosity and care for others that will endure! Just as we have received so much from God — gifts freely given us, and not of our own making — so let us freely give to others in return.” The Holy Father prayed that the effect of his visit would result in a generous concern by us for all people.

May that happen in our parishes, schools, religious education and Catholic Charities programs. May our priests, deacons, seminarians, consecrated women and men, and the lay faithful show the love of Christ by their generous care for others. May the fruit of charity abound in our diocese. Where charity is; there is Christ. May Christ be the Francis Effect in the Church, in society and in us.

Students Papal Mass in Madison Square Garden

Students from Catholic schools in the Diocese of Camden pose for a photo after taking the train back from New York Sept. 25 after attending the Papal Mass in Madison Square Garden.

As I participated in the Papal events in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, I ran into people from our diocese whose enthusiasm and joy from the presence of the Pope and whose love of the Church and our faith were evident. May they continue to bear the fruit of Christ’s love in their words and deeds.

At the conclusion of the Opening Mass for the World Meeting of Families, I met a family from the diocese who had won their tickets through Catholic Charities. They were bursting with joy from their experience at Mass. May all our families know the joy of Christ.

In D.C., Rev. Mr. Edward Kennedy was front and center at the Papal Mass to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion. He was beaming with happiness at being so close to the altar on which the Holy Father would offer Mass. May that happiness remain with him as he prepares for ordination to the priesthood next May. May more young men from our diocese allow themselves to consider that the Lord is calling them to the joy-filled vocation of a priest.

At the conclusion of that Mass, I ran into Father Vince Guest and Sisters Graciela and Maria de Jesús from Bridgeton who had just witnessed the canonization of Blessed Junípero Serra. Like the new saint, these Religious Women and their pastor are missionaries in their parish. May each parish staff serve their parishioners with the spirit of missionaries.

On the bus to that Mass the Secret Service agent who accompanied it showed me with fatherly pride a photograph of yours truly confirming his son at Incarnation Parish in Mantua. It’s a small world! As a result of the Francis Effect, may many fathers show their children fatherly pride and love.

In Madison Square Garden in New York there were 100 individuals from the diocese. That celebration is best described as “electric.” Thank you Cardinal Dolan who generously sent me tickets that were distributed to our seminarians, students in our Catholic elementary and high schools, catechists, administrators and teachers, major donors, priests, and chancery staff. The Garden was converted into a Cathedral where, in the mystery of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, many were one in Christ with His Vicar on earth. May that unity enrich our diocesan church.

At the conclusion of the Mass in the Garden, Cardinal Dolan reminded us that at each Mass we pray in union with Francis our Pope but that for these few days in September the Vicar of Christ was physically with us to lead us all closer to Christ. The crowd roared in agreement.

In the hotel in Philadelphia I met a young family from Woodbury who was spending the day together to enjoy the events of the World Meeting of Families. Their children attend one of our Catholic schools. That family is essential to our local church and to society in South Jersey. May the Francis Effect encourage all families to be schools of love. That evening as I walked about I met parishioners from a number of our parishes. May the Francis Effect build up our Catholic families, our parishes, schools and this local church.

In Philadelphia at the Sunday Mass on the Parkway, I ran into a number of our priests and deacons who were concelebrating the Mass and assisting with the distribution of Holy Communion. May the love and respect of Camden’s priests and deacons for our Holy Father be shown in their priestly and diaconal ministries.

Whether you followed these days of grace through the media or directly, may the Francis Effect of concern for others be evident in your lives.

Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, D.D., Bishop of Camden

Read in Catholic Star Herald