VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Catholic pilgrimage, especially a pilgrimage to Marian shrines, should help people grow in their commitment to be missionary disciples, Pope Francis said.
Meeting pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Ozamiz, Philippines, Nov. 17, the pope said their visits to shrines in Europe dedicated to Mary should remind them that “being followers of Jesus always involves listening to his word, meditating on it in our hearts and then bringing that word to others,” Mary did when she visited her cousin Elizabeth.
“Indeed,” the pope said, “we could say that Mary was the first missionary disciple.”
Pope Francis prayed that the pilgrims would be “transformed by your encounter with the Lord and renewed in zeal for bearing witness to his presence, compassion and love.”
The pilgrimage was part of the archdiocese’s ongoing celebration of its 50th anniversary, and the pope said he hoped the trip and other anniversary celebrations would help all Catholics in the archdiocese deepen their awareness of their call to be faithful followers of Christ.
“Nourished by the preaching of the word of God and the celebration of the sacraments,” the archdiocese and its members can “contribute to the advancement of God’s kingdom of justice, unity and peace,” the pope said.
“It is my hope that your parishes and communities will be models in practicing the works of mercy and in being neighbors to all — especially families, young people, the sick, the elderly and the poor — with the charity that Jesus asks of us,” he said.
Being good Christians and good neighbors, Pope Francis said, also includes “being responsible stewards of creation, in the realization that our care for one another and for our common home are intimately bound together.”