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Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted

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Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted was installed as the fourth bishop of Phoenix on Dec. 20, 2003. Since 1974, Bishop Thomas James Olmsted has been a member of the Jesus Caritas fraternity of priests, and thus has been deeply influenced by the witness and wisdom of Charles de Foucauld and by the prayers and encouragement of many brother priests. For 16 years, Bishop Olmsted lived in Rome, Italy, where he obtained a master’s dgree in theology, a doctorate in Canon Law, and worked more than nine years in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. During the nine years of serving in the Holy See, he resided at the Pontifical North American College and assisted seminarians with spiritual direction. Having been reared on a family farm on the Kansas-Nebraska border, he attended a single-room grade school near Oketo, Kan., and a small rural high school in Summerfield, Kan. His first contact with Catholic schools came when he entered St. Thomas Seminary College in Denver, Colo., from which he graduated in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

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It should come as no surprise that Pope Francis has much to say about Jesus, since Peter and all his successors have been called by God to make Christ known and loved.

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Pope Francis also hears their cry and has made service of the poor a top priority in his life and ministry. Repeatedly, since his election as pope, he has called for a Church of the poor, a Church for the poor. Let us see why pastoral concern for the poor is so important.

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While insisting that this document is not an encyclical or a document aimed at defining Church dogma, "The Joy of the Gospel" is nonetheless an important message of the Successor of Peter in which Pope Francis exhorts all of us in the Church to embrace the Gospel with confidence and to live it with joy.

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On the first day after he was elected pope, our new Holy Father traveled across the city of Rome to pray at the most important Roman Shrine of Our Lady, found in the Basilica of St. Mary Major. On the first day of the New Year 2014, Pope Francis again made an unannounced visit to this Marian Shrine. In the nine months of his papacy, he has made similar pilgrimages to pray to the Mother of God and ask her loving protection for the Church and the world.

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Since his election on March 13 of this year, he has caught the attention of the world. Even non-believers and non-practicing Catholics are paying attention. Pope Francis surprises and inspires, even as he challenges us to love the poor and in them to meet Jesus anew.

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“¡Viva Cristo Rey!” 86 years ago, November 23, 1927, these words rang forth in Mexico City as a young man was being executed by a firing squad.

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“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” These words of Charles Dickens could easily be applied to the present situation that the Church faces in the American continent when she proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ about marriage, family and the culture of life.

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If beauty has the power to lead us to God, then, why have so many people stopped believing in it?

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The common good is built by means of charity. While it is true that the government has a role to play in this endeavor, it is incapable of bringing about human flourishing on its own, since it cannot move people to act with charity.

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Recently we have been looking at eight tasks Catholics need to be about in order effectively to bear witness to Christ at this time in America. Today, we shall look at two more: Make Sunday the center of our life and defend the life and dignity of all persons.

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