Welcome!

If you have never been to a Catholic church, or if you are new to our area of Kansas City, welcome!

If you and your family have been away from the Catholic Church for some time, welcome back! If you are an active member of our family at St. John Francis Regis, welcome! In short, we are glad you are here.

Come and join us for Holy Mass and be transformed by God’s grace. Participate, go out “into the deep”— get involved. We are truly blessed to have such a Christ-centered, faith-filled community. We invite you to join us and experience this great gift of God. Learn ways you can get involved at St. John Francis Regis by browsing our site, our bulletin, or our Facebook page. Take advantage of the various links and videos and contemplate anew the splendor of our faith alive in our age.

I invite you to consider becoming a registered member of our parish so you can grow in abundant love of God and neighbor. We look forward to seeing you, and may God richly bless you!

In Christ,
Fr. McCaffery

Upcoming Events

First Friday Adoration

October 5, 2018 - 9:00am
Adoration Chapel
First Fridays we have 12 hour Adoration in the Adoration Chapel from 9:00am to 9:00pmRead more

First Friday Adoration

November 2, 2018 - 9:00am
Adoration Chapel
First Fridays we have 12 hour Adoration in the Adoration Chapel from 9:00am to 9:00pmRead more

First Friday Adoration

December 7, 2018 - 9:00am
Adoration Chapel
First Fridays we have 12 hour Adoration in the Adoration Chapel from 9:00am to 9:00pmRead more
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Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

RCIA Program

Saint of the day

September 23, 2018 - 12:00am
On Sept. 23, the Catholic Church remembers the Italian Franciscan priest St. Pio of Petrelcina, better known as “Padre Pio� and known for his suffering, humility and miracles.The man later known by these names was originally named Francesco Forgione, born to his parents Grazio and Maria in 1887. His parents had seven children, two of whom died in infancy. They taught the five surviving children to live their faith through daily Mass, family prayer of the rosary, and regular acts of penance. Francesco had already decided at a young age to dedicate his entire life to God. At age 10, he felt inspired by the example of a young Capuchin Franciscan, and told his parents: “I want to be a friar – with a beard.� Francesco’s father spent time in America, working to finance his son’s education so he could enter the religious life. On Jan. 22, 1903, Francesco donned the Franciscan habit for the first time. He took the new name Pio, a modernized Italian form of “Pius,� in honor of Pope St. Pius V. He made his solemn vows four years later, and received priestly ordination in the summer of 1910. Shortly after, he first received the Stigmata – Christ’s wounds, present in his own flesh.Along with these mystical but real wounds, Padre Pio also suffered health problems that forced him to live apart from his Franciscan community for the first six years of his priesthood. By 1916 he managed to re-enter community life at the Friary of San Giovanni Rotondo, where he lived until his death. He handled many duties as a spiritual director and teacher, covering for brothers drafted into World War I.During 1917 and 1918, Padre Pio himself briefly served in a medical unit of the Italian army. He later offered himself as a spiritual “victim� for an end to the war, accepting suffering as a form of prayer for peace. Once again, he received the wounds of Christ on his body. They would remain with him for 50 years, through a succession of global conflicts. Against his own wishes, the friar’s reputation for holiness, and attending miracles, began to attract huge crowds. Some Church officials, however, denounced the priest and had him banned from public ministry in 1931. Pope Pius XI ended the ban two years later, and his successor Pius XII encouraged pilgrimages to Padre Pio’s friary.Known for patient suffering, fervent prayer, and compassionate spiritual guidance, Padre Pio also lent his efforts to the establishment of a major hospital, the “Home to Relieve Suffering.� Padre Pio died in 1968, and was declared a saint in 2002. Three years after his death, Pope Paul VI marveled at his simple and holy life in an address to the Capuchin Order.“A worldwide following gathered around him ... because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from dawn to dusk and was – it is not easy to say it – one who bore the wounds of our Lord,� Pope Paul explained. “He was a man of prayer and suffering.�
September 22, 2018 - 12:00am
On Sept. 22, the Catholic Church remembers Saint Thomas of Villanova, a 16th century Spanish Augustinian monk and archbishop who lived a life of austerity in order to provide for the spiritual and material needs of his people. Born during 1488 in the Spanish region of Castile, in the town of Villanova de los Infantes, Thomas Garcia was raised to take after the faith and charitable works of his parents Alphonsus and Lucia. His father, a mill worker, regularly distributed food and provisions to the poor, as did his mother. Generous and devout from an early age, their son was also intellectually gifted, beginning his studies at the University of Alcala at age 16. Within ten years he had become a professor of philosophy at that same university, where he taught for two years before being offered a more prestigious position at the University of Salamanca. Thomas, however, chose not to continue his academic career. After his father’s death, he had determined to leave much of his inheritance to the poor and sick rather than retaining it himself. At age 28, after much deliberation, Thomas embraced a life of chastity, poverty, and religious obedience with his entry into the monastic Order of St. Augustine. Thomas made his first vows as an Augustinian in 1517 and was ordained a priest in 1518. He taught theology within his order and became renowned for his eloquent and effective preaching in the churches of Salamanca. This led to his appointment as a court preacher and adviser to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Presented with the prospect of being named an archbishop, Thomas initially declined and instead continued his work within the Order of St. Augustine, during a period that saw its expansion across the sea to Mexico. In August of 1544, however, he was ordered by his religious superiors to accept his appointment as the Archbishop of Valencia. Thomas arrived wearing the same well-worn monastic habit that he had worn for several years and would continue wearing for years to come. Given a donation to decorate his residence, he funnelled the money to a hospital in need of repair. After his installation, he visited local prisons and ordered changes to be made in response to their inhumane conditions. While continuing his life of monastic asceticism, the archbishop worked to improve the spiritual lives and living conditions of the faithful. He gave special attention to the needs of the poor, feeding and sheltering them in his own residence. During the same period he worked to promote education, restore religious orthodoxy, and reform the lifestyles of clergy and laypersons. After 11 years leading the Archdiocese of Valencia, St. Thomas of Villanova succumbed to a heart condition at the end of a Mass held in his home on Sept. 8, 1555. He is said to have died on the floor rather than in his bed, which he insisted on offering to a poor man who had come to his house. Pope Alexander VII canonized him in 1658.
September 21, 2018 - 12:00am
Saint Matthew, the first-century tax collector turned apostle who chronicled the life and ministry of Christ in his Gospel, is celebrated by the Church today, September 21. Although relatively little is known about the life of St. Matthew, the account he wrote of Christ's ministry – traditionally considered to be the first of the four Gospels - is of inestimable value to the Church, particularly in its verification of Jesus as the Messiah. Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox churches celebrate St. Matthew on November 16, along with St. Fulvianus, a prince who is recorded in some traditions as converting from paganism after Matthew's martyrdom. The Gospel accounts of Mark and Luke, like Matthew's own, describe the encounter between Jesus and Matthew under the surprising circumstances of Matthew's tax-collecting duties. Jewish publicans, who collected taxes on behalf of the Roman rulers of first-century Judea, were objects of scorn and even hatred among their own communities, since they worked on behalf of the occupying power and often earned their living by collecting more than the state's due. Jesus most likely first encountered Matthew near the house of Peter, in Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee. The meeting of the two was dramatic, as Matthew's third-person account in his Gospel captured: “As Jesus passed on,� the ninth chapter recounts, “he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, 'Follow me'. And he got up and followed him.� Matthew's calling into Jesus' inner circle was a dramatic gesture of the Messiah's universal message and mission, causing some religious authorities of the Jewish community to wonder: “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?� Jesus' significant response indicated a central purpose of his ministry: “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."A witness to Christ's resurrection after death, as well as his ascension into heaven and the events of Pentecost, Matthew also recorded Jesus' instruction for the apostles to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.�Like 11 of the 12 apostles, St. Matthew is traditionally thought to have died as a martyr while preaching the Gospel. The Roman Martyrology describes his death as occurring in a territory near present-day Egypt. Both the saint himself, and his Gospel narrative, have inspired important works of religious art, ranging from the ornate illuminated pages of the Book of Kells in the ninth century, to the Saint Matthew Passion of J.S. Bach. Three famous paintings of Caravaggio, depicting St. Matthew's calling, inspiration and martyrdom, hang within the Contarelli Chapel in Rome's Church of St. Louis of the French.Reflecting on St. Matthew's calling, from the pursuit of dishonest financial gain to the heights of holiness and divine inspiration, Pope Benedict said in 2006 that “in the figure of Matthew, the Gospels present to us a true and proper paradox: those who seem to be the farthest from holiness can even become a model of the acceptance of God's mercy and offer a glimpse of its marvelous effects in their own lives.�
September 20, 2018 - 12:00am
Pope John Paul II said this of the Catholic Church in Korea: "The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by laypeople. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast 10,000 martyrs. The years 1791, 1801, 1827, 1839, 1846, and 1866 are forever signed with the holy blood of your martyrs and engraved in your hearts. The death of these many martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today's splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians of the Church of Silence in the north of this tragically divided land." Christianity came to Korea through Christian books which had been brought across the border from China. In 1784 the small community of Koreans who had been converted through what they read in the books sent one of their own to Beijing to receive baptism.In the next half century, the rapidly growing Christian community of Korea was sustained in the Sacraments by only two priests from China, until 1836, when, after years of pleading, a group of French missionary priests were sent to Korea. These priests all numbered among the martyrs.At the end of the 18th century and throughout the next, there were six great waves of persecution in which 10,000 martyrs shed their blood for the faith. Saints Andrew Kim Taegon and Paul Chong Hasañg, were leaders of the Catholic Church in Korea. Andrew Kim Taegon was born to Korean nobility, and his parents converted when he was 15-years old. He traveled over 1000 miles to study in a seminary and became the first native Korean priest. He was tortured and beheaded in 1846.Paul Choñg Hasang was a Korean Catholic lay leader who defended the faith before the government of Korea, and reunited the Christians in the midst of the persecutions, encouraging them to stay strong in the faith. In response to his direct appeals, the Pope, Gregory X, confirmed the validity of the Korean Church and sent more priests to Korea. He was martyred in 1839.
September 19, 2018 - 12:00am
Emily was born in 1787 at Rodez, France.  She was educated at Villefranche, became a teacher at the age of 18 and, realizing that many of the children of the poor were not going to school because they could not afford to, she opened a school for them and taught without charge. She also began to consider religious life, but after entering three or four congregations for a short time, she realized that she was not called to any of the existing orders. Emily devoted all of her life to teaching the poor and gathered other young women to help her cope with the rapidly growing numbers of children in her school. These women also gave all their lives to teaching the children and became the nucleus of the Religious Congregation of the Holy Family of Villefranche.  The congregation was devoted to caring for the elderly, prisoners, and orphans, in addition to the schools for the poor. Some of the nuns were also contemplative and spent their time in prayer and adoration. She died of cancer at Villefranche on September 19, 1852.  At the time of her death Saint Emily de Rodat had opened 38 charitable institutions.   Saint Emily was canonized in 1950 by Pope Pius XII.
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Daily Readings

September 23, 2018 - 1:00am
12 "Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training.
17 Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;
18 for if the righteous man is God's son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
19 Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected."
September 23, 2018 - 1:00am
1 Save me, O God, by thy name, and vindicate me by thy might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
3 For insolent men have risen against me, ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before them. [Selah]
4 Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.
5 He will requite my enemies with evil; in thy faithfulness put an end to them.
6 With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to thee; I will give thanks to thy name, O LORD, for it is good.
September 23, 2018 - 1:00am
16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.
18 And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
1 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members?
2 You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
September 23, 2018 - 1:00am
30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it;
31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise."
32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.
33 And they came to Caper'na-um; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you discussing on the way?"
34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.
35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."
36 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them,
37 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me."
September 22, 2018 - 1:00am
35 But some one will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?"
36 You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
37 And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
45 Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual.
47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.
49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
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Catholic News

September 24, 2018 - 6:02am

Riga, Latvia, Sep 24, 2018 / 05:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During an ecumenical prayer service in Latvia Monday, Pope Francis warned Christians to not let the faith turn into another piece of history, but to keep it an active part of their lives and communities.      

“This is a recurring danger for all of us,” the pope said Sept. 24. “We can take what gives us our very identity and turn it into a curio from the past, a tourist attraction, a museum piece that recalls the achievements of earlier ages… The same thing can happen with faith.”

“We can stop feeling like ‘resident’ Christians and become tourists,” he continued. “We could even say that our whole Christian tradition can run the same risk. The risk of ending up as a museum piece, enclosed within the walls of our churches, and no longer giving out a tune capable of moving the hearts and inspiring the lives of those who hear it.”

Pope Francis spoke during an ecumenical prayer meeting in the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral in Riga, Latvia. The cathedral is one of the country’s most recognizable landmarks and houses a pipe organ considered among the best in the world.

Though the organ has been renovated and rebuilt several times over the years, it is also considered one of the oldest in Europe and was at one time the largest in the world.

During the prayer, Francis referenced the organ, pointing out how it must have “accompanied the life, the creativity, the imagination and the devotion of all those who were moved by its sound.”

“It has been the instrument of God and of men for lifting of eyes and hearts to heaven. Today it is a symbol of this city and its cathedral,” he said. “For those who live here, it is more than a monumental organ; it is part of the life, traditions and identity of this place.”

He said the organ can be a symbol of the Christian faith, which as St. Luke says, “is not to be hidden away, but to be made known and to resound in the various sectors of society.”

If the “music of the Gospel” is not heard in people’s lives, there can be no hope, he said. If the music of the Gospel does not sound in homes, in workplaces, in public, people will not recognize the duty to defend the dignity of every man and woman.

If the music of the Gospel stops, people will lose joy, compassion, trust, and the capacity for reconciliation. He stated: “If the music of the Gospel is no longer heard, we will lose the sounds that guide our lives to heaven and become locked into one of the worst ills of our day: loneliness and isolation.”

“Thank God” that the words of the Gospel of John continue to “echo in our midst,” the pope said: “Father, that all may be one… so that the world may believe.”

He explained that Jesus prayed these words before his Passion, “as he looked ahead to his own cross.” This constant and quiet prayer marks a path for everyone, shows the way to follow, he emphasized.

“We discover the only path possible for all ecumenism: that of confronting the cross of suffering… Jesus turning to his Father, and to us his brothers and sisters, continues to pray: ‘that all may be one.’”

These are not easy times, Francis said, especially for those who, even today, are experiencing exile and martyrdom for the faith. “Yet their witness makes us realize that the Lord continues to call us, asking us to live the Gospel radically, in joy and gratitude.”

“If Christ deemed us worthy to live in these times, at this hour – the only hour we have – we cannot let ourselves be overcome by fear, nor allow this time to pass without living it fully with joyful fidelity,” he said.

Following the prayer meeting Pope Francis met with elderly men and women in St. James’ Catholic Cathedral. Though a historically Lutheran country, Catholics make up around 25 percent of the population of just under 2 million.

At St. James’ the pope recalled the many trials older Latvians have experienced, such as war, political repression, persecution, and exile. “Yet you remained steadfast; you persevered in faith,” he said.

“Neither the Nazi regime, nor the Soviet regime could extinguish the faith in your hearts. Neither could they stop some of you from becoming priests, religious sisters, catechists, or from serving the Church in other ways that put your lives at risk,” he said. “You fought the good fight; you ran the race, you kept the faith.”

He pointed to the words of St. James to have constancy in faith, and encouraged those present to persevere, to “not yield to disappointment or grief,” to not lose gentleness or hope.

Francis encouraged them to have, in their homes and homeland, “patient endurance and patient expectation,” so that “in this way you will continue to build your people.”

Before the meetings in the two cathedrals, Pope Francis started his day in Latvia with a brief speech to the country’s authorities. To them he said he was happy to know that the Catholic Church, in cooperation with the other Christian churches, is an important part of the country’s roots.

“The Gospel has nourished the life of your people in the past; today it can continue to open new paths enabling you to face present challenges, to value differences and, above all, to encourage ‘com-union’ between all,” he said.

The pope also praised the country’s liberty, which is celebrated during this year’s 100th anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence.

“If today we can celebrate, it is due to all those who blazed trails and opened a door to the future,” he said, “and bequeathed to you that same responsibility: to open a door to the future by looking to everything that stands at the service of life.”

He said a community’s development is not measured by the goods produced or resources possessed, but by the desire “to engender life and build for the future,” which is “measured by their capacity for self-sacrifice and commitment, in imitation of the example of past generations.”

September 23, 2018 - 4:01pm

Philadelphia, Pa., Sep 23, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Charles Chaput offered Friday on First Things a critique by a theologian of the working document for the upcoming Synod on Youth, which highlights five principal theological difficulties in the document.

The synod will be held Oct. 3-28 at the Vatican. Archbishop Chaput is one of five representatives who were chosen by the US bishops' conference to attend the meeting.

In addition, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark; though Tobin has elected not to attend, citing pastoral obligations in his local Church amid the sexual abuse crisis.

The Archbishop of Philadelphia wrote Sept. 21 that in recent months he has “received scores of emails and letters from laypeople, clergy, theologians, and other scholars, young and old, with their thoughts regarding the October synod of bishops in Rome focused on young people.”

“Nearly all” of those “note the importance of the subject matter”, “praise the synod’s intent”, and “raise concerns of one sort or another about the synod’s timing and possible content,” he wrote.

Archbishop Chaput shared the text of a critique of the instrumentum laboris, which he received “from a respected North American theologian.”

He noted it “is one person’s analysis; others may disagree. But it is substantive enough to warrant much wider consideration and discussion as bishop-delegates prepare to engage the synod’s theme.”

The theologian identified five principal problems with the text of the instrumentum laboris for the youth synod: naturalism, an inadequate grasp of the Church's spiritual authority, a partial theological anthropology, a relativistic conception of vocation, and an impoverished understanding of Christian joy.

The author said the document “displays a pervasive focus on socio-cultural elements, to the exclusion of deeper religious and moral issues,” and expresses a desire to examine reality through the faith and experience of the Church, while “regrettably fail[ing] to do so.”

Four examples of this naturalism are given. One of them is the discussion in section 144, where “there is much discussion about what young people want; little about how these wants must be transformed by grace in a life that conforms to God’s will for their lives.”

“After pages of analysis of their material conditions, the IL offers no guidance on how these material concerns might be elevated and oriented toward their supernatural end … the majority of the document painstakingly catalogues the varied socio-economic and cultural realities of young adults while offering no meaningful reflection on spiritual, existential, or moral concerns. The reader may easily conclude that the latter are of no importance to the Church,” the theologian wrote.

The theologian next discussed the document's “inadequate grasp of the Church’s spiritual authority,” saying that “the entire document is premised on the belief that the principal role of the magisterial Church is 'listening.'”

By its emphasis on listening and dialogue, the instrumentum laboris suggests that “the Church does not possess the truth but must take its place alongside other voices,” the author wrote. “Those who have held the role of teacher and preacher in the Church must replace their authority with dialogue.”

This misunderstanding of the Church's teaching authority results in a “conflation of the baptismal and sacramental priesthood”, the theologian wrote, and it also “presents a pastoral problem”: “the Church as mother and teacher cannot through negligence or cowardice forfeit this necessary role of setting limits and directing (Cf. §178). In this regard §171, which points to the motherhood of the Church, does not go far enough. It offers only a listening and accompanying role while eliminating that of teaching.”

Third, the theologian discussed the “partial theological anthropology” of the instrumentum laboris, which they said “fails to make any mention of the will” in its discussion of the human person.

“It is the will that is fundamentally directed toward the good,” the author notes. “The theological consequence of this glaring omission is extraordinarily important, since the seat of the moral life resides in the will and not in the vicissitudes of the affect.”

Then is discussed the “relativistic conception of vocation” in the document, which gives the impression “that vocation concerns the individual’s search for private meaning and truth.”

An example of this problem is section 139, which “gives the impression that the Church cannot propose the (singular) truth to people and that they must decide for themselves. The role of the Church consists only in accompaniment. This false humility risks diminishing the legitimate contributions that the Church can and ought to make.”

The last principal difficulty of the instrumentum laboris is its impoverished understanding of Christian joy, according to the theologian.

Spirituality and the moral life “are reduced to the affective dimension, clearest in §130, evidenced by a sentimentalist conception of 'joy.'”

According to the theologian, the document presents joy as “a purely affective state, a happy emotion …  Despite its constant reference to 'joy,' nowhere does the IL describe it as the fruit of the theological virtue of charity. Nor is charity characterized as the proper ordering of love, putting God first and then ordering all other loves with reference to God.”

Consequent upon this understanding of joy is a lack of “any theology of the Cross” in the instrumentum laboris.

“Christian joy is not antithetical to suffering, which is a necessary component of a cruciform life,” the theologian writes. “The document gives the impression that the true Christian will be 'happy' at all times, in the colloquial sense. It further implies the error that the spiritual life itself will always result in felt (affective) joy.”

“The pastoral problem that results from this comes to the fore most clearly in §137: Is it the role of the Church to make youth “feel loved by him [God]” or to aid them in knowing they are loved regardless of how they might feel?”

The theologian added that there are other serious theological concerns in the document, noting, “a false understanding of the conscience and its role in the moral life; a false dichotomy proposed between truth and freedom; false equivalence between dialogue with LGBT youth and ecumenical dialogue; and an insufficient treatment of the abuse scandal.”

September 23, 2018 - 1:34pm

Kaunas, Lithuania, Sep 23, 2018 / 12:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis told priests and religious in Lithuania Sunday to listen to the cries of suffering that come from the People of God, who are looking to them for hope.

“The cry of our people must strike us, like Moses, to whom God revealed the suffering of his people in the encounter at the burning bush,” the pope said Sept. 23. “Listening to the voice of God in prayer makes us see, makes us hear, know the pain of others in order to free them.”

“The cry that makes us seek God in prayer and adoration is the same that makes us listen to the lament of our brothers,” he continued. “They hope in us and we need, starting from a careful discernment, to organize ourselves, plan and be bold and creative in our apostolate.”

There is no room for improvisation when it comes to responding to the needs of God’s people, he said.

Pope Francis spoke during an encounter with priests, religious, and seminarians in the Cathedral of Kaunas in Lithuania, part of the program of the second day of a visit to the Baltic states Sept. 22-25.

In their encounter, the pope offered one piece of advice in particular – for priests to be close to their people and close to God in the tabernacle.

He said a priest more concerned with the administrative or functionary parts of his job “opens the office at that time, does his job, closes the office.” And meanwhile, the people are all outside. “He does not approach people.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, if you do not want to be an executive, I will tell you one word: closeness!... Closeness to the Tabernacle, face to face with the Lord. And closeness to people.  The Lord wants you shepherds of the people, and not clerics of the State!”

The pope said that closeness and mercy are linked, and “a priest cannot but be merciful. Above all in the confessional.” He told priests to think about how Jesus would treat the person coming to confession and to welcome them.

“Already enough has he been beaten by life, that poor guy! Let him feel the embrace of the forgiving Father,” he said. If absolution cannot be given to someone right away, he advised encouraging the person to pray and to come back to talk. “Never chase someone from the confessional! Never drive [someone] away,” he said.

September 23, 2018 - 12:45pm

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 23, 2018 / 11:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis prayed that Lithuania become an example of defense of human rights in a gathering Sunday with former 20th-century freedom fighters, political prisoners, exiles and their families.

“May Lithuania become a beacon of hope,” the pope prayed. “May it become a land of memory and action, constantly committed to fighting all forms of injustice. May it promote creative efforts to defend the rights of all persons, especially the most defenseless and vulnerable.”

“And may Lithuania be for all a teacher in the way to reconcile and harmonize diversity.”

Sunday’s gathering took place at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fighters, a former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, where Soviets detained and executed hundreds of people. The event mourned victims of Nazi and Soviet oppression in Lithuania and honored those who fought for human rights.

In his prayer, the pope reflected on Christ’s cry in the gospels; “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

“Your cry, O Lord, continues to resound,” the pope prayed. “It echoes within these walls that recall of the sufferings endured by so many sons and daughters of this people.”

“Lithuanians and those from other nations paid in their own flesh the price of the thirst for absolute power on the part of those who sought complete domination.”

The pope urged Lithuanians to remember their history, and to continue to fight against violations of human rights today.

“May that (Jesus’) cry encourage us not to succumb to the fashions of the day, to simplistic slogans, or to efforts to diminish or take away from any person the dignity you have given them,” he prayed.

“Lord, grant that we may not be deaf to the plea of all those who cry out to heaven in our own day.”

The pope’s meeting with former freedom fighters took place on the second day of his four-day trip to the Baltic states. During the gathering, Lithuanians read poems and performed songs from times of exile and Soviet repression.

Prior to his meeting with the freedom fighters, Pope Francis stopped to pray in Rudninku Square, where the historic Vilnius ghetto was located before its destruction 75 years ago. Lithuania had a Jewish population of about 208,000 before World War II. An estimated 95 percent of that population was killed in the Holocaust.

September 23, 2018 - 12:28pm

Dallas, Texas, Sep 23, 2018 / 11:28 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Most of the delegates attending the National V Encuentro conference arrived by plane, or by car if they lived locally enough.

Not Antonio Mendez and José, who walked nearly 30 miles from Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral in Dallas to Grapevine, Texas, in time for the conference’s closing Mass. The two are looking to raise awareness of immigration issues.

Despite the very rainy and “not good” weather that plagued the Dallas area on Saturday, the pair were able to safely complete the walk without any major issues. They walked to the National V Encuentro, a meeting of Hispanic and Latino Catholics from throughout the United States. Mendez told CNA that he was inspired to do this walk in part by the recent controversy over family separations at the U.S. border.

"You have families struggling, (and they are) separated all over the country,” said Mendez. “Children, suffering. Who's going to take care of that?”

He felt the walk was a way of showing people that, “You have worth, you can do something, to make people (pay) attention and take care of that.”

Before the pilgrimage, the pair did not know each other. They met when Mendez asked at a Mass at the Cathedral if anyone would be able to provide him with a ride or assistance with the trek. José (who has asked that CNA not use his last name) offered his car, and then asked if he could join as well.

This pilgrimage was similar to one Mendez does each year prior to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ annual immigration Mass. That pilgrimage takes three days, and consists of Mendez walking 47 miles from his home parish in Orange County to the Cathedral in Los Angeles. He does this to honor those who were unable to safely migrate to the United States.
 
The pair met with Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles shortly after arriving at the Gaylord Texan resort, where they had a brief chat.

Afterwards, Gomez told CNA that he feels the United States needs to make concrete moves on reforming its immigration policy, and that they were a symbol of how important the immigration issue is at this time.

“Antonio and Jose, coming from Dallas to Fort Worth to be with us here at the Encuentro is a reminder to all of us of the importance of the immigration issue at this time in our country,” said Gomez.

“They are very good Catholics, and the only thing they want to do is walk, praying that our elected officials, and all people in the United States, understand the importance of the immigrants that are in our country.”

Gomez said that he is continuing to pray that Congress is able to come up with a solution for the problems related to immigration currently in the United States. This spring, Congress was unable to reach a compromise on various measures, including the DREAM Act as well as the construction of a border wall.

“We can do it,” said Gomez.

“We are always praying for that and for them to understand how important it is for so many people that already are participating for the common good of our country.”

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