In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Pope Francis, Archbishop William E. Lori has invited Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore to contribute to a special “spiritual bouquet” that the Archbishop will present to the Pope in December. The spiritual bouquet will take the form of a book produced by the Archdiocese of Baltimore that will include prayers and brief reflections from Catholics about the ways they, their parishes, schools and organizations live out the pope’s priorities in the areas of evangelization, welcoming the stranger, building a culture of inclusion, promoting the sanctity of all life, protecting creation, sharing God’s mercy and forming holy priests.
When I received this invitation from Archbishop Lori, I felt challenged to respond to his request. Not because I struggle to articulate the ways in which St. Agnes School lives out the Pope’s priorities. Rather, the challenge would lie in the limit of words and characters (200 and 1500 respectively) I would be allowed to submit in my note. So after some reflection, I chose one of the priorities which I believe would best resonate with Pope Francis – “sharing God’s mercy”.
I thought you might enjoy reading the note below which I submitted on behalf of our school community:
Dear Holy Father,
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of your ordination, I extend to you the prayers of St. Agnes School in Maryland. On this joyous occasion, I am humbled to offer you a brief glimpse into the faithful efforts of my co-workers in Christ. As a Catholic school, the essential cornerstone of our program is to create young people of intellectual competence, compassion and conscience. Moreover, we teach our students to see the Face of Christ in others and to be the Face of Christ for others. Accordingly, we teach our students to become countercultural in a world that promotes self-interest above the needs of the marginalized and to give glory to God through direct acts of Christian service. At St. Agnes, service is more than a school activity, it has become an integral part of our curriculum. To this point, each month a group of students are sent out to serve the needy within the Baltimore area. From providing hot meals to the hungry at My Brother's Keeper; to spending time with the elderly at Frederick Villa Nursing Care Center; to delivering lunches to the gentlemen facing homelessness at Westside Men’s Shelter; to packing food for low-income families at the Catonsville Emergency Assistance Center; to reading books and playing games with the young special needs students at Maiden Choice Elementary School. With each of these projects, our students break down the walls of ignorance and share God's love with our human family.
Happy anniversary Pope Francis! A.M.D.G.!
When our Holy Father reads this greeting, I would like think that a big smile will come upon his face. What’s more, I believe that as he smiles, he will offer prayers of thanksgiving for the special community that exists within St. Agnes. We are truly blessed!