Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares, accompanied by numerous priests and deacons, processed through the plaza in front of the downtown Diocesan Pastoral Center March 15 surrounded by clouds of billowing incense, en route to the Solemn Pontifical Mass of Thanksgiving for Pope Francis.
Catholics from around the Phoenix Diocese gathered in St. Mary’s Basilica to pray for the newly named pontiff, chosen from among 115 cardinals just 48 hours earlier. Gracie Thompson, a noon Mass regular at the parish, was one of those who came to thank God for the new Holy Father.
“It was a beautiful Mass and it was very inspirational to see so many different people gathered together,” Thompson said. “Everyone was so joyful and many people stayed around and chatted afterward.”
“What a gift to the Church in [Pope]Francis,” Bishop Nevares said to the crowd gathered at the basilica. “We want to congratulate our Jesuit brothers who are here with us to celebrate this holy Mass, in thanksgiving that they have given one of their own to serve as the successor of St. Peter.”
He also congratulated the Franciscan friars and two Argentinian priests who were on hand to concelebrate the Mass. “All of us are filled with great joy in each and every way, thank and praise almighty God for this wonderful gift of Pope Francis,” Bishop Nevares said.
“To Francis I, Supreme Pontiff and Universal Father: peace, life and eternal salvation,” the choir chanted in Latin. With hymns and a Scripture reading in Spanish, the liturgy was a trilingual celebration of faith.
“Look with favor we pray on Francis our pope and grant that he who You have made St. Peter’s successor may be for Your people a visible source and foundation of unity in faith and of communion,” Bishop Nevares prayed.