Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass of the Holy Spirit at The Catholic University of America

Thursday, September 8, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated a Mass of the Holy Spirit for The Catholic University of America’s community in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday, Sept. 8. The Mass of the Holy Spirit is celebrated annually at Catholic schools to invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the campus community and begin the academic year in prayer.

Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by welcoming all students back to campus. “In a special way, I welcome the incoming freshmen class, the class of 2020, including all of you from every state in the Union and so many other countries around the world,” said the cardinal.

The cardinal spoke of the Jubilee Door of Mercy in the Basilica, which serves as a reminder that “Pope Francis has called all of us this year to reflect on the loving embrace of God’s mercy and how it is always there for us. In the Bull of Indiction for this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis begins, ‘Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.’  He goes on to tell us that we need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives.”

“We are beginning this academic year in a unique moment in the life of the Church.  It was only a year ago that Pope Francis walked through this same Basilica and then out onto the East Portico to celebrate Mass having already driven through the campus to be greeted by 25,000 people,” said Cardinal Wuerl.

The cardinal shared memories of the Holy Father’s visit to Washington, DC and the Canonization Mass that was held at the Basilica. “My own recollection of that ride in the Popemobile was the immediate awareness when we came to the section reserved for Catholic University students. The decibel level quadrupled. The cheers were so loud that it was not possible in the Popemobile to hear one another. So touched was our Holy Father by the obvious affection of the students on this campus that he instructed the driver to turn around and retrace the route so that he could see those of you who were on the other side,” he said.

The cardinal continued, “At the Canonization Mass, he asked us to embrace the spirit of Junípero Serra, who that day was declared a Saint. He invited us all to be true evangelizing disciples – those who bring the Good News to others. A part of that Good News is God’s loving embrace and compassionate mercy. He also reminded us that one of the best ways of telling the story of our Catholic faith and what it means to us is the way in which we live it. The Catholic University of America boasts that it is the National Catholic University and thus we should expect to see, on this campus, manifestations of our faith alive.”

The cardinal spoke of the Holy Father’s encyclical, The Joy of the Gospel where “he told us that the evangelizing disciple renews his or her own faith and this includes the deepening of that faith through the quiet moments of prayer and then stands confident in its truth. One of the great joys of life is to know you stand in the truth and that while we are constantly searching for a deeper realization and understanding of that truth, we are already spiritually united to the source of all truth – our Lord.”

Cardinal Wuerl encouraged the students to heed Pope Francis’ call to be evangelizing disciples and share the good news. “Going back to the homily of Canonization, the Holy Father quoted the motto of Junípero Serra, ‘Always forward.’ May that be the motto of all of us as this new academic year opens,” he said. “Our challenge in this Year of Mercy, in this year of basking in the memory of the visit of Pope Francis to our campus is to accept the challenge.”

The best way to accept the challenge is to go out, to encounter, to accompany and to engage, said the cardinal. He continued, “You and I believe that Christ is risen, that he walks with us and that we can touch him, reach him and be with him in the Sacramental life of the Church. We need to have the confidence to say this when we are accompanying someone, so that we actual engage them in the life of the Church. And this brings us to the last point in the challenge to go out, to encounter, to accompany and to engage, and that is the realizations that in this whole process both of us, all of us, are getting closer to the Lord Jesus.”

The cardinal concluded his homily, “What a wonderful year this will be as we all go forward, always forward in being who we say we are and in trying to live out our declaration that we are The Catholic University of America and that life on our campus will always reflect the love of God, the forgiveness of Christ and the enlivening, energizing power of the Holy Spirit.”


The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C. and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Chieko Noguchi or Lindsey Frechou
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