Father Christopher Seibt, parochial vicar of St. Rose of Lima Church in North Syracuse, sent dispatches from Washington, DC, Sept. 21 to 24 as he helped to emcee the papal Mass there Sept. 23. Father Seibt shared an inside look at the preparations and what it’s like to participate in a Mass with Pope Francis. Below is an excerpt from one of his reflections; read them all and see photos and video at thecatholicsun.com.

The relic of St. Junípero Serra rested on a table a few feet away from me before it was carried up in procession and placed in the sanctuary for Mass. I had a chance to venerate it and said a special prayer for my family, friends, parishioners and all the people of the Diocese of Syracuse. In a particular way, I prayed for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life in our diocese. We need young men and women to follow in the footsteps of holy people like St. Junípero Serra, who was filled with a missionary zeal that led him to live and spread the Gospel.

During the Mass, my duties were to bring the gift bearers up to the Holy Father and to lead the torch bearers out for the consecration. As I approached Pope Francis with the first group of people, I found myself standing just a few feet in front of him. His concentration on the Mass and prayerful demeanor were inspiring. Just to be in his presence, in the presence of the successor to St. Peter, was a beautiful thing. It filled my heart with joy and reminded me that our faith is for real! It is alive! And, it includes the fullness of truth that God has revealed to us. Wow again!

I could go on forever about the events of today, but I want to end my reflections with two things. First, I encourage all of us to find Pope Francis’ homily from today’s Mass and prayerfully read it. It was a great encouragement to all of us not to let our hearts become anesthetized or lifeless, but to let our faith and our mission as disciples fill them with the type of joy that sustains us so that we, like St. Junípero Serra, will give our very lives for the sake of the Gospel. Second, I would like to end with the beautiful words of today’s collect (opening prayer at Mass) for your reflection, which was said for the first time today after Junípero Serra was made a saint: “O God, who by your ineffable mercy, have been pleased through the labors of your Priest Saint Junípero Serra to count many American peoples within your Church, grant by his intercession that we may so join our hearts to you in love, as to carry always and everywhere before all people the image of your Only Begotten Son.”

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