Archdiocese of Chicago
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ARCHDIOCESAN CATHOLICS GREET, PRAY AND PLEDGE
TO SERVE IN HONOR OF POPE BENEDICT XVI’S U.S. VISIT

Chicago, IL ( April 15, 2008 ) – The video sharing website YouTube contains a Papal welcoming message produced by the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Radio and Television in honor of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the U.S this week. A link to the greeting, as well as one to ongoing coverage of the papal visit in the Archdiocesan newspaper, the Catholic New World, can be found on the front page of the Archdiocesan website, www.archchicago.org.

In the greeting, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, notes that he is “ … speaking on behalf of the 2.3 million Catholics in the 363 parishes that make up the Archdiocese of Chicago. All of us join in wishing Pope Benedict XVI a safe and blessed journey to our country, the United States. We thank him for his tireless commitment to spreading the Word of God, affirming our faith. We pray that the pope’s message now of faith, of unity, of love for all people around the world will be heard and taken into our hearts and acted upon.” Cardinal George closes the greeting with “God Bless you, Pope Benedict, from the Archdiocese of Chicago.”

As part of his official duties as the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal George greeted the pontiff when he arrived at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Tuesday. He will accompany the pope during his time in Washington D.C. and in New York City before he departs for Rome on Sunday.

While he is in the nation’s capital, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in the new Nationals Park on Thursday, April 17 at 10 a.m. Concurrently, representatives from nine northwest side Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic elementary schools will gather in Chicago’s Portage Park, Irving Park Rd. at Central Ave., for a three-hour prayer service and picnic to welcome the Holy Father to the U.S. Students and teachers from St. Bartholomew, St. Constance, St. Edward, St. Ladislaus, St. Pascal, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Viator, and Our Lady of Victory grade schools will join in prayer and song with community members from four area neighborhoods. “We’re praying showers forecast for the day hold off until the afternoon,” said the service’s organizer, Fr. Jason Malave, pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish.

Additionally, students at Archdiocesan schools, parish religious education programs, colleges and seminaries in Cook and Lake counties made nearly 5,000 pledges exceeding 20,000 service hours as part of a recently-completed pledge campaign in honor of Pope Benedict’s 81 st birthday on April 16. Nationwide, nearly 369,000 people have pledged 1.7 million service hours in this campaign that was organized by the National Catholic Educational Association.

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