Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Happy Easter!

Congratulations to all who have received Easter Sacraments of Initiation this weekend.  We welcome you to the Roman Catholic Church and to this particular Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi.  Thank you to all who have enriched our Lenten experience, helping us to renew our baptismal promises and celebrate the new life that comes to us through the cross of Jesus Christ.

With the election earlier this month of Pope Francis there seems to be a renewed energy in the Church.  A few days following his election, Pope Francis explained how he came to choose the name Francis.  In his words: Some people wanted to know why the Bishop of Rome wished to be called Francis. Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis De Sales, and also Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M.: a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said: “Don’t forget the poor!” And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of all the wars, as the votes were still being counted, till the end. Francis is also the man of peace. That is how the name came into my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me, he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation; these days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we? He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man… How I would like a Church which is poor and for the poor!

As we celebrate the risen Christ, Pope Francis exhorts Christians everywhere to “protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!  The vocation of being a ‘protector’, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another; and then; as parents; they care for their children; and children themselves; in time; protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!” (Pope Francis’ inauguration homily 3/19/13)

As we journey together this Easter season, embracing the paschal mystery, may we be protectors and witnesses to the new life God gives to us in the gift of one another and this Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi.

In the peace of the risen Christ,

Fr. Mark