March-April 2014 Lent and Easter
Dear Friends of St. Joseph’s Prep,
“Never say never,” my Jesuit friend remarked last year when to the surprise of all of us Jesuits, and of many others, a Jesuit became Pope. “Never say never.” Pope Francis has received an invitation from Prep students to visit them at St. Joseph’s Prep as part of his stay in Philadelphia during World Family Days in September of 2015. Our Prep graduate and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter delivered the invitation personally to the Pope together with a Prep sports jersey inscribed “Pope Francis.” Mayor Nutter was a member of a delegation of Philadelphians visiting Rome this March and urging the Pope to attend the Family event. “Never say never.” The Church of the Gesu, the children of Gesu School and our Prep community are ready to receive the blessings of a papal visit.
Some of us recall other memorable public events in Philadelphia engaging not only the Catholic faithful in great numbers but those of other religions as well. My earliest memories of Logan Square include a public Mass there over sixty years ago. In 1976 Philadelphia was the host for a Eucharistic Congress when Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Jesuit General Superior Pedro Arrupe and Archbishop Helder Camara appeared together on stage at the old Convention Center. All three of them slight of stature and bearing the wrinkles of age and all three smiling and filled with hope for this world even though each one had been a witness of great human suffering. And in 1979 Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass for a million people on a great platform altar constructed at Logan Square. Even if Pope Francis does not attend the Family meeting, Philadelphia once again will be a focus of God’s love and mercy for this world.
But if Pope Francis comes to Philadelphia, he can feel at home visiting the students at St. Joseph’s Prep because he remembers fondly teaching Spanish literature to Jesuit high school students in Argentina when he was a young Jesuit. We can even offer him hospitality at our Jesuit residence on 18th St! “Never say never.”
The phrase, of course, applies also to all of us who might hesitate to affirm the resurrection of the body of Jesus and those of us his followers. This world is filled with surprises. What else might God have in store for us?
Rev. George W. Bur, S.J. ’59
President, St. Joseph’s Prep
To read more from Fr. Bur, go to his blog here.