Memorial Mass draws 2,250 faithful to National Shrine, including centenarian vet

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Approximately 2,250 Catholics gathered in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Pentecost Sunday for a Mass to honor the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces, particularly those who paid the ultimate price for American liberty.

Fouad Simon John, U.S. Army veteran of World War II, turned 100 on May 16, 2018. (courtesy photo)

U.S. veterans, service members, military chaplains, and their families attended the 24th Annual Memorial Mass of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). Among the crowd was Fouad Simon John, a World War II veteran who turned 100 days before the liturgy. The Maronite Catholic served as a U.S. Army medic in World War II from 1941 to 1945 and lives in the town he was both, Uniontown, PA — which shares America’s birthday.

Two other dates he won’t forget: “the day I went in the army or the day I came out.” John was drafted out of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA, on Sept. 19, 1941, and fought in the Pacific, serving on the front lines in the GilbertMarshall, and Ryukyu Islands. He earned three Bronze Stars, a Good Conduct Medal, and a number of other decorations before his honorable discharge on Oct. 5, 1945.

In the pulpit, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, prayerfully remembered all U.S. veterans, service members, military chaplains, and their families, particularly the infirm and faithful departed.

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio delivers homily at Memorial Mass in Washington, D.C., on Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018. (courtesy photo)

“We are here primarily because men and women have repeatedly renounced their own interests, put their security at risk, and gone forth to defend our Nation, her friends, and the innocent all over. Let us give thanks and pray for those who have died in the service of our Country, those who still carry the wounds of their service in body and in mind, the families who have sacrificed while loved ones were far away or did not return, and those veterans who have succumbed on the final journey,” the archbishop said.

He also prayed for the priests who have served the faithful of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. The archbishop said Pentecost, whose feast day aligned with this year’s Memorial Mass, are about gifts given and shared, but in different ways.

Awards and medals given by the military recognize service and jobs well done. “The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to be shared and to enable us to do great things. The power of the Spirit is overwhelming and can fill us up, but only if we open ourselves to Him. Then we can overcome the tyranny imposed by the flesh as St. Paul teaches,” the archbishop said.

Full homily

Joining Archbishop Broglio at the altar were dozens of Catholic U.S. Military chaplains and priests, as well as, deacons in service to the AMS.

EWTN will video-record the Mass and broadcast it on Memorial Day, May 28, beginning at 11:30 a.m. (EDST).


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