Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted

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The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted is the bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix. He was installed as the fourth bishop of Phoenix on Dec. 20, 2003, and is the spiritual leader of the diocese's Catholics.

Members of consecrated life receive special charisms, not so much for their own good as for the good of others, to be integrated into the whole Body of Christ, the Church, and to be channeled into an evangelizing impulse at the service of the Lord. I pray that this may be one of the fruits of the Year of Consecrated Life.

On the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, St. John Paul II published a memoir which offered a personal glimpse into his priestly heart. He focused on two words, two realities that were the most prominent in his life: mystery and gift — the mystery of Christ and the gift of believing in Him.

A wedding banquet was not when we might have expected Jesus' first miracle. Usually, His miracles cured the sick, healed the leper, fed a hungry crowd of thousands, gave sight to the blind. So why did He work His first miracle at a wedding banquet?

Has the Holy Father given up on prayer and negotiations for peace? Or is he signaling the complex nature of peace making?

In this part of my series on Pope Francis’ Game Plan, then, it seems helpful to look at key elements of the Ignatian charism that are evident in the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation, the “Joy of the Gospel.”

There is a close connection between service of the poor, freedom and evangelization. Catholic apostolates integrate service to the poor with joyful witness to Christ; they serve because they love Jesus. They freely receive God’s mercy; they freely give mercy to others in turn. They imitate Jesus in His solidarity with the poor.

Pope Francis' words give us insight into some of his top priorities as the Bishop of Rome. It is worthwhile, then, to look briefly at what he writes about parish life today.

Last time we looked at what Pope Francis writes about Jesus in his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel.” Now let us consider what the Holy Father has to say about the Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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.

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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