Hello and welcome!
They had not been able to hold the dinner for two years, so it was wonderful to be able to gather with friends and benefactors of the seminary once again. Among those in attendance were many members of the Papal Foundation and Mario Paredes with members of his physician group, SOMOS.
I was one of the honorees of the evening. In my remarks, I talked about the importance of the priesthood in the Catholic Church and the North American College’s crucial role as one of our largest and most influential seminaries for North America.
I also thanked the people for their support of the seminary and noted that everyone in the United States has a stake in supporting the seminary because of its important role in training Church leadership for our country.
The dinner was a great success and it was a beautiful evening. It was also an opportunity to thank Msgr. Peter Harman as he is finishing up his six years as rector of the NAC.
Later that day, we had an audience with the Holy Father. We met in the library and had a dialogue with him about his hopes for the commission going forward with the new structure from Praedicate Evangelium.
It was a very positive meeting, and the members were all delighted to have the opportunity to spend that time with the Holy Father.
There has been quite a build-up to the meeting, which was held to promote greater fraternity and collaboration among the provinces of the Americas. There will be a similar gathering in Europe this summer.
Brazil is one of the countries with the largest Capuchin presence. There are over a thousand friars and 30 Capuchin bishops in the country.
Our Father General from Rome, Father Roberto, and a number of his staff were with us, along with representatives of all the provinces of Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
I was asked to give a conference on the Capuchin charisms.
Thursday, I celebrated a televised Mass at the Shrine of Aparecida, the largest church in the hemisphere.
As many of you know, this is the shrine of the patroness of Brazil. So, of course, Aparecida is a huge site of pilgrimages here in Brazil, and, in many ways, it feels like Lourdes or Fatima because the life of the whole town revolves around the shrine.
I believe the shrine holds about 30,000 people indoors and, of course, even larger crowds outdoors. It is staffed by the Redemptorists, and they have 70 priests stationed at the shrine, which just gives you a sense of how large it is.
It was wonderful to be with so many friars here in Brazil. The conference was certainly a great grace and privilege, and I’m so happy to have been a part of it.
Until next week,