A service of prayer for Pope Francis took place at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar on 13 March 2014, marking the first anniversary of the Holy Father’s election.
On 13 March 2013 Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected to the Chair of Peter. From his humble introduction during his first urbi et orbi where he requested the prayers of people across the world, Pope Francis has captured the imagination, hearts and minds of women and men in Ireland and beyond.
Joy and mercy have thus far been key messages of Pope Francis’ ministry. These sentiments have been beautifully captured in his first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), which Pope Francis published on 24 November last. Evangelii Gaudium opens with the words:
“The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”
The first year of the Pontificate of Pope Francis has not only been captured in words, but also in the many images which we have witnessed of the Holy Father reaching out to those on the margins and evangelising through action as well as words. We are all challenged Pope Francis’ call to reach out to the margins. We wish Pope Francis health and happiness for his future ministry. May the Holy Spirit pour out upon him in abundance and bless him with all the gifts needed to shepherd the flock of the Catholic Church, and to strengthen all our brothers and sisters in the faith and to be an inspiration to all people of goodwill throughout the world.