Cardinal Wuerl Commemorates One Year Anniversary of Papal Visit

Monday, September 26, 2016

Confers Papal Honors on individuals who planned and organized the papal visit to Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, commemorated the one year anniversary of the visit of Pope Francis to Washington on Friday. At the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Cardinal Wuerl unveiled the memorial marker that identifies the spot on the east portico where the Holy Father celebrated the Mass of Canonization for Junipero Serra.

Outside the basilica, the Fiat 500L used by Pope Francis during his visit to Washington last year was parked as a reminder of the warm enthusiasm and excitement that welcomed the pope to Washington. The archdiocese has been using the vehicle to focus attention on the ministries, public service, community engagement and ongoing acts of mercy of the Archdiocese of Washington and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. Before going inside to celebrate Mass in the basilica’s crypt church, the cardinal stopped by the Fiat and spoke briefly to people gathered around it taking photos.

In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl referenced the Gospel reading of the day of the profession of faith made by Peter in response to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” “Every one of us in this Basilica, every disciple of Jesus, at some point makes the same profession that Peter did, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,’” said the cardinal. “Today we renew that profession of faith and come together to celebrate the role of Peter in the Church. Today, as every day, the voice and message, the proclamation and teaching of Peter continue to echo in our hearts as they do throughout the whole world.” 

“The touchstone of our proclamation of faith is Peter. We, who are gathered here in the Basilica of the National Shrine, recognize that we are one with all of those around in world in faith that recognizes the unique role of Peter, who today bears the name Francis.” The cardinal reflected on the Holy Father’s visit and spoke of the homily from the canonization Mass where the pope reminded the faithful of the need to always go forward in the faith. “Pope Francis said, ‘A Christian finds joy in mission: Go out to people of every nation! A Christian experiences joy in following a command: Go forth and proclaim the good news! A Christian finds ever new joy in answering a call: Go forth and anoint!’”

“In the Memorial Hall outside this Chapel you will find the chair used by our Holy Father at the Mass.  Upstairs in the Great Upper Church you will find in the Sanctuary the altar on which the Holy Father celebrated the Eucharist at that Canonization Mass.  All of these are symbols of our communion with the Holy Father and our unity among ourselves,” he said.

“In our celebration today we recognize and we proclaim that because we are members of the Church in communion with Peter and his successors, we not only hear the Good News that Christ is risen, but we actually recognize him in the breaking of the bread and share in the mystery of his death and Resurrection — in the Eucharist. Today let us rejoice and thank God for so many blessings: for the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, for its former shepherd, who for nearly 27 years guided this Church, John Paul II, now Saint, for his Successor, Pope Benedict XVI, and now for Pope Francis, who continues to shepherd the Church Universal with great wisdom and loving care.  At the same time, we ask God to continue to bless all of us, the faithful disciples of Jesus gathered with our Chief Shepherd – Francis, Peter today,” said the Cardinal as he concluded his homily.

Before the conclusion of the Mass, the cardinal recognized several individuals who were key in the planning and execution of the papal visit in Washington by bestowing Papal Honors. The members of the clergy and laywomen and laymen who were recognized were:

Knight of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great

–     Mr. William Gorman

–     Mr. J. Michael Kelly

Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal

–     Reverend Monsignor Walter R. Rossi

–     Reverend Mark D. Knestout

–     Mrs. Jane Belford, Esq.

–     Dr. Thomas Burnford

–     Deacon David Cahoon

–     Mr. Richard deStwolinksi

–     Dr. Peter J. Latona

–     Mrs. Kathy McKinless

–     Mr. Frank Persico

–     Mr. Thomas Stehle

Benemerenti Medal

–     Reverend Ismael Ayala

–     Reverend Charles Cortinovis

–     Reverend Michael D. Weston

–     Mrs. Joan Fowler-Brown

–     Ms. Chieko Noguchi

–     Mr. Rafael Roncal

–     Dr. Susan Timoney

–     Ms. Gabrielle Tucci

–     Ms. Sarah Yaklic

–     Mr. Mark Zimmermann

Papal Jubilee Medals were presented to the following individuals:

–     Reverend Monsignor Vito A. Buonanno

–     Reverend Monsignor Salvatore A. Criscuolo

–     Reverend Monsignor John J. Enzler

–     Reverend Monsignor W. Ronald Jameson

–     Reverend Monsignor Robert Panke

–     Reverend Rafael Barbieri

–     Reverend Carter Griffin

–     Ms. Pam Erwin

After the Mass at a celebratory dinner, Cardinal Wuerl presented pectoral crosses to the auxiliary bishops of Washington: Bishop Francisco González, S.F., Bishop Martin D. Holley (who is now bishop-designate for the Diocese of Memphis), Bishop Barry C. Knestout and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville.


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.

Ed McFadden or Lindsey Frechou
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