ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MANILA, Philippines (CNS) – Pope Francis said his September trip to the U.S. will take him to Philadelphia, New York and Washington – where he intends to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra – but probably no other stops.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) – Micah Herbst of Sioux City does not have a son on the football team at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.
MANCHESTER – Hundreds gathered at St. Bridget Parish on Jan. 11 to honor Father Stephen Sledesky, who was recognized as this year’s Archdiocesan Distinguished Elementary School Pastor. The award is presented annually to a pastor who exemplifies leadership, dedication and commitment to Catholic school education.
MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Pope Francis told a crowd of an estimated 6 million gathered in a Manila park to protect the family "against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture."
HARTFORD – Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell and the late David A. Lentini were recipients of the St. Francis Spirit Award during the annual luncheon meeting of St. Francis Care, parent company of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, at the Connecticut Convention Center Jan. 7.
Wilfrid Macena and other members of a Haitian amputee soccer team present Pope Francis with a soccer jersey on Jan. 12, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson stands to Mr. Macena’s left.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Highlighting some of the most urgent conflicts facing the world, Pope Francis said such strife and injustices were rooted in a culture of rejection that refuses to recognize God, to protect nature and to respect other human beings.
In a wide-ranging speech Jan. 12 to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope urged the world's governments and individuals to work "to end every form of fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue reconciliation, peace and the defense of the transcendent dignity of the human person."
HARTFORD – Few people have the opportunity to attend a Mass celebrated by the pope. Far fewer have the privilege to do so in his private chapel at the Vatican.
Mario Enzler is one of those people. He spoke in Hartford on April 29 about how his faith grew during the nearly four years he protected Pope John Paul II as a member of the famed Swiss Guard.
An only child, he is the son of an Italian mother and Swiss father. He served in the Swiss Army before applying to join the Swiss Guard because, as he joked, he thought the uniforms looked sharp and would help him meet girls.
His talk was entitled "I Served a Saint," and he spoke of how John Paul II "helped me to grow as a man in my faith" and in his appreciation of the priesthood. "The love of Christ was the dominant force in the life of our Holy Father."
In a talk that mixed humor with a serious message, he explained that "the popes have an army and that army is from Switzerland. The Swiss didn’t do just banking and chocolates. They were mercenaries" and highly valued for their military skills.
Members of the guard may serve a maximum of 10 years. They can marry after two years of service, but only if there is an available apartment for the couple within Vatican City.
The typical work week is 100 hours and many days involve split shifts, he said.
"When you are a Swiss Guard, you never go home. You become a citizen of Vatican City" and live there full time, Mr. Enzler added. The pay is modest at best.
"To be a Swiss Guard, it’s a mission. You get a call, you leave your family," he said. "Spending time in the Apostolic Palace in the presence of the Lord forms the soul of a Swiss Guard."
Depending upon their assignment, members of the guard may or may not be in ceremonial uniform. The pope always has two Swiss Guards alongside whenever he travels. The entire force numbers 100.
Mr. Enzler told a number of personal stories, some of them drawing laughs, about his experiences at the Vatican. But most were tales of faith.
"The first time I met John Paul II, I was doing my night shift" at a desk in the hallway outside the papal apartment from midnight to 6 a.m., he said.
At 3 a.m. he noticed that a light was on and went to investigate. It was in the tiny chapel next to the Pope’s bedroom and there before him was the Holy Father, kneeling in deep, intimate prayer, with one hand on the tabernacle and his forehead pressed against the back of that hand.
Mr. Enzler quietly backed away so as not to disturb him. A couple of hours later, a cardinal came down the hall and invited him to attend the 5:30 Mass that would be celebrated by the pope. He was one of only six people present.
The Mass was truly special, but what impressed him the most was how the Holy Father had spent two and a half hours in prayer to properly prepare himself for the Mass.
"I saw the presence of the Lord in that small chapel," he said.
Later that day, the pope approached him in the hallway and invited Mr. Enzler to join him the next time he was in intimate prayer. He had somehow sensed the guard’s presence outside the chapel.
On Good Friday, the Swiss Guard selects a few people from among the crowd at St. Peter’s Basilica to have their confessions heard by the pope. On one occasion, the last person in line was a pregnant woman who went into labor and had to be rushed to the hospital.
The sergeant of the guard ordered Mr. Enzler to take her place. He was a little uneasy about this because the penitents were supposed to come from the congregation, but he followed orders.
As he started his confession, the Holy Father spoke up from the other side of the darkened confessional and said, "I know this voice." He smiles about it now.
He estimated that during his career, he saw as many as 750 world leaders pass before him in the waiting room outside of the pope’s office, all waiting for a personal audience with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. They included heads of state, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.
That list may sound impressive, but "I learned in the Vatican that the biggest leader in the world is Jesus Christ."
Mr. Enzler now serves as headmaster of the New England Classical Academy, a school in the Catholic tradition, in Claremont, N.H. His talk was held at the Polish National Home and sponsored by the Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford.