Deacon Justin Gough of the Archdiocese of Baltimore presents Pope Francis a Ravens jersey signed by Coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Lamar Jackson Dec. 3 in Vatican City. (Courtesy Archdiocese of Baltimore)
ROME – A delegation from the Archdiocese of Baltimore presented Pope Francis with a custom-made Ravens jersey signed by Coach John Harbaugh, a Catholic, and quarterback Lamar Jackson during a Dec. 3 audience at the Vatican. They also gave the Holy Father a “spiritual bouquet,” a book produced by the Archdiocese of Baltimore that contains prayers and greetings from people across the archdiocese in celebration of the pope’s upcoming 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination Dec. 13.
Archbishop William E. Lori accompanied seminarians from the Archdiocese of Baltimore in presenting the gifts, with Deacon Justin Gough giving the smiling pontiff the jersey emblazoned with Jackson’s number 8 and the name “FRANCIS.”
Archbishop Lori, Bishop Adam J. Parker and Bishop Denis J. Madden are in Rome this week, along with bishops from the surrounding region (DC, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia and the Military Archdiocese) for the “Ad Limina” visit.
Bishops from around the world visit the Vatican every few years to deliver detailed reports about their dioceses to the pope. The bishops met with the pope for nearly three hours Dec. 3, discussing a wide range of issues including the clergy sexual abuse crisis and bishops’ accountability.
In a letter to Pope Francis published in the spiritual bouquet, Archbishop Lori said the people of the Archdiocese of Baltimore “give thanks that throughout the 50 years of your own priesthood, you have shown us what it means to accompany others and bring God’s mercy to the ‘peripheries.”
“A priest’s ministry is not about glorifying himself,” the archbishop wrote. “It must be focused on glorifying God and serving others.”
Archbishop Lori said the people of the archdiocese “take seriously your call to encounter people wherever they are and in whatever circumstances they find themselves.”
The 38-page spiritual bouquet includes messages from priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful reflecting on the ways they evangelize, welcome the stranger, build a culture of inclusion, promote the sanctity of all life, protect creation, share God’s mercy and cultivate holy priests.
Father James Boric, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, wrote in his message to the pope that the Holy Father’s call for priests to get out of their offices and be with their “sheep” inspired him to start an urban missionary program through which two young men minister to the marginalized on the streets of Baltimore.
Mary E. Cox of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City told the pope she left the church 40 years ago because of a culture of “exclusion and judgement,” but returned because of the pope’s example.
Mary V. Tamplin of St. John the Evangelist in Severna Park was among many who said they pray for the pope daily and members of the Bonardi family at St. Alphonsus Rodriquez in Woodstock said they try “to emulate you by sharing the love and gifts God has given to us with others who are less fortunate.
To read the entire spiritual bouquet, click here.
This story will be updated this afternoon with an interview with Archbishop Lori.
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