Posts Tagged ‘Video’


Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

This morning along with a crowd estimated in excess of 110,000, I saw the Holy Father up close and personal. My reason for being in Rome this morning I will share with you momentarily, but for the first time in a long time I had that sense of “chills” of being in the presence of the Pope. It is a sense I first had when as a layman I was introduced to Pope Paul VI but left me after repeated time spent with Blessed Pope John Paul II, on the road during three papal visits to the United States and and many, many other occasions with he and Pope Benedict. Perhaps I “overdosed” on Popes in my life but over time while holding the deepest respect for them and the office they held, awe gave way to “ho hum” perhaps.

Well “awe” returned with a vengeance this morning. First, when I arrived at my place reserved for all bishops and looked out over the sea of people in front of me. I have been in the square when it has been full but I have never been there when the square was full and there were thousands shoulder to shoulder down the Via Conciliatione, the Main Street leading up to the square. I had heard last night there were 92,000 requests for tickets for today’s audience, in mid-October, folks, when schools are finally reopened in Europe and everyone is supposed to be back to work but in front of me was this wave of humanity, all waiting for a glimpse of one man.

Looking out at the sea of people. Photo by yours truly.

Looking out at the sea of people. Photo by yours truly.

It’s too facile to say that all new popes draw big crowds. They do. But not this big. Ask the shopkeeper near the Vatican and he shouts “bella”or ask the cab driver trying to make his way through the area and he says “bruta.” Ask any person and they say they have never seen anything like it.

The audience is supposed to start at ten o’clock but precisely at 940am a roar goes up and out he comes on the jeep, smiling, waving, stopping for wheelchairs and babies. And they drive everywhere throughout the square and then, as I suspected, out into the deep of the Conciliatione where there were no barriers holding people back. They came to see him so he was not going to disappoint them.

Pope Francis greeting the people. Photo kindness of Msgr. Robert Morris.

Pope Francis greeting the people. Photo kindness of Patty Morris.

For forty minutes he drove throughout and outside of the square, keeping we bishops waiting and everyone else at the “front of the line.” I have a feeling that he does it on purpose. Those who have the smallest or no connection with how to get tickets for one of the 90,000 chairs get just as much of his time and attention as those of us in the “orchestra” who hold jobs that ensure proximity or know someone who can land the best seat.

He walks up the incline plane from the car to the platform not like a 75 year old with one lung but like a younger man delighted to be there.

Pope Francis. Photo taken by yours truly.

Pope Francis. Photo taken by yours truly.

The formal part of the audience took, you guessed it, the same forty minutes it took him to drive through the crowd.

Pope Francis. Photo kindness of Msgr. Robert Morris

Pope Francis. Photo kindness of Patty Morris.

He spoke of the centrality of Mary in the life of the Church in Italian – an Italian spoken so slowly that even I understood most of it.

He dropped his text and spoke extemporaneously three times this morning, each time drawing laughter from the Italian speakers and scattered applause. He does not attempt any other language but Spanish and after one Our Father and the blessing it is over. You can read his written text by clicking here or by watching a summary video below.


We bishops were first to greet him and have our picture taken with him. It’s a shame that others wait so long because this morning Cardinal Meisner of Germany and forty-one of we other “red caps” were there.

I thanked him for all he has done so far after first telling him I was from St. Petersburg, Florida, in the United States and smiling he said to me in perfect English, “Please pray for me, I have only just begun and I need prayers.”

Meeting Pope Francis. His reply to me, "Please pray for me, I have only just begun and I need prayers." Photo kindness of Msgr. Robert Morris.

Meeting Pope Francis. His reply to me, “Please pray for me, I have only just begun and I need prayers.” Photo kindness of Patty Morris.

I didn’t want to take any more time and my knees were shaking anyway. I left the upper platform looking at the recent brides and grooms in their wedding attire waiting to meet him and get a picture. One couple yelled out to me by name so someone was there from St. Petersburg. I know Monsignor Morris and his brother and sister-in-law were there in the crowd somewhere as well as Father Craig Morley and a pilgrimage group but finding other people in that Mass of humanity was like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack. I have shared whatever free time they have the last two and a half days with our two seminarians, Ryan Boyle and Alex Padilla, but they had class this morning. Rome is beautiful right now.

I was on my way back to the North American College where I am staying by 1135am. I am in Rome for three days only because a man whom I deeply admire and with whom I worked for seventeen years, Kenneth Hackett, former President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, presented his papers to Pope Francis on Monday as the new Ambassador of the United States of America to the Holy See, appointed by President Obama. It was an honor to share these moments with Ken and Joan, his wife, and their two children.

I am home again tomorrow (Thursday) and back at it in the diocese where I belong. I shall not soon forget that warm, smiling, welcoming face of Francis and the energy of the crowd who love what he is doing to and for our Church.



Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

[youtube width=”400″ height=”300″][/youtube]Apropos of the previous blog and very desirous of responding in some way to Pope Francis’ call to prayer and fasting this Saturday, I have informed all the parishes that I would like them to include a special prayer for peace after the communion prayer and prior to the final blessing at the Saturday Vigil Masses. The Holy Father’s request includes the concept of fasting for peace as well and I leave that choice up to God’s people, hoping that they will participate that way also.

Pope Francis asked that the churches of the world use the time between 7pm and midnight European Daylight Time when he will be leading prayer in St. Peter’s Square to be united with him and with all gathered around him in this special moment. That exact time frame would be 1pm until 6pm EDT and even earlier in the Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones – right in the middle of our Saturday weddings, confessions and Vigil Masses.

So using the moment when the greatest number can likely be gathered in the churches of this diocese, I have suggested this manner of raising our voices in supplication with those of others asking our leaders to refrain from further military action and continue to pursue other paths to peace – however elusive they may seem at the moment.

Thanks to all who will use this moment well in the parishes of the Diocese of St. Petersburg.



Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

In that marvelous musical comedy of decades ago, Fiddler on the Roof, there is an exuberant song sung by the whole cast at a wedding, I believe, entitled “To Life, to life, l’chaim.” That has certainly been my experience over the last two weeks.

It all began with the formal opening of 40 Days for Life at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Clearwater (please click here for more photos from the kickoff, graciously taken and shared by Rob Gale). I joined almost two hundred woman and men of all ages who, over the following forty days, would be silently praying before an abortion clinic on US 19 North.

40 Days for Life Kickoff at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Clearwater. Photo kindness of Rob Gale.

Their silent, eloquent witness on behalf of life has made a difference, not only in this diocese, as similar observances are now being held each October (Respect Life Month) before abortion clinics throughout our five counties, but now almost throughout the nation. The participants were prepped on how to handle counter protests, epithets, etc. in a manner in which Our Lord would have born those same affronts and also how to lovingly respond to women whose decision may have changed because of the presence of the witnesses.

Praying together at the 40 Days for Life Kickoff. Photo kindness of Rob Gale.

It was heart-warming to see the prayerful preparation of these generous, faith-filled people who are willing to bear the heat of the October sun, the rain and wind which have been a part of our climate these last two weeks, and the catcalls and insults of those who do not share theirs and our deep respect for human life.

On Saturday, Catholic Charities’ Foundations for Life held its annual gala (aka “fundraiser”) at Tampa’s A La Carte Pavilion and approximately 430 people were in attendance there (click here to see photos). There were two incredible moments in the evening, and if you were unable to be there I hope you will take the time to watch the two videos included below. It will be time well-spent, I assure you.

The first was when Shawn Carney, a thirty-year old Catholic man born and raised in Tyler, Texas and one of the two founders of 40 Days for Life gave absolutely the best pro-life talk I have ever heard.

With Shawn Carney, co-founder of 40 Days for Life. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Shawn met his future wife while attending Texas A&M and she invited him to stand outside of an abortion clinic one night for their first date. The rest is history and with another friend they gave birth (while his wife was giving birth to four children) to Forty Days for Life. His talk was to the point, free of judgment and recrimination against women who have had abortions, and a call to the larger pro-life community, Catholic and otherwise, to stand tall for our belief in the sacredness of human life. He was the most compelling speaker I have ever heard on this topic. I highly recommend watching the video of his talk below.

Prior to Shawn’s presentation, a young nineteen year old woman and her husband and their triplets gave personal witness to a story that had myself and everyone else in tears. You can watch the video of Ruby’s testimony, posted with her permission, below.

Ruby actually had given birth to quads but one died in the womb and a obstetrician recommended ending the lives of the other three as well, saying that they would most certainly be born with major genetic defects and would likely not live outside the womb even if they made it that far. She and her husband, with no money, but just a profound sense of right and wrong, decided to have the children and soon they were in touch with our Catholic Charities Foundations of Life Pregnancy Center in Tampa. Catholic Charities saw them through the birth and the triplets, while born very early and prematurely, are now very healthy babies as the picture below picture reveals.

With Ruby’s family. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Unknown to anyone at the time of the birth but soon discovered after, the mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age eighteen, has not been through chemo and is presently undergoing radiation therapy. Through it all, our Catholic Charities has been walking with this couple and their three absolutely adorable children and will stay with them come what may. “To Life, To Life, L’Chaim.”

We have a beautiful Church with beautiful teachings about the dignity of every human person from conception to natural death. This is the month we honor and respect all human life and in our dedication and witness, even the gates of hell can not prevail against it.



Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

The opening prayer. My brother priests celebrating 25 and 40 years of priesthood are on the altar to my right, with half of my brother priests in attendance behind them (the other half in attendance were behind those celebrating their 50th and 60th years of priesthood to my left). Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

This morning was the annual Chrism Mass for the diocese at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg. It is one of my favorite moments in my service as bishop as all my brother priests gather together annually publicly to recommit themselves to their priestly ministry, and the oil of the catechumens, infirm and sacred chrism are blessed in the case of the first two and consecrated in the case of the third. The Cathedral is always packed as each parish sends representatives, at least one for each of the oils and priests and deacons are present in great number. I have always thought that our diocesan Office of Worship as well as the staff of the Cathedral really knock themselves out to provide a glorious liturgy which makes all present proud. A large choir gathered from the parishes of the diocese sing their hearts out as well. There is nothing like a full Cathedral, brother priests united with me in our privileged and blessed ministry, the singing of the “Gloria” sneaking back into Liturgy having largely been absent for these thirty-eight days of Lent to reassure all present that the Church remains vibrant and strong.

Blessing the Oil of the Sick. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

I mentioned above that the oils in use throughout the coming year are either blessed or consecrated during this annual Mass. The Oil of Catechumens is used at baptism as the first of the two sacred oils which are parts of this sacrament of initiation. The Oil of the Infirm is used only during the administration of the Sacrament of the Sick. Both of these oils come from a type of Olive Oil and they are blessed both in large urns and also in other containers brought today from the parishes and held up during the part of the ceremony which comprises the blessing (following the promise of recommitment of the priests and the homily.) Olive oil was both precious but plentiful at the time of our Lord and when mention was made yesterday in the Gospel for Monday of Holy Week of Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus breaking out a precious alabaster jar and anointing the feet of Jesus, one senses its intrinsic value in Jewish life two thousand years ago. Sacred Chrism is the same olive oil to which is added a perfume, making it even richer. Used in ancient times to anoint kings, chrism has a special place in the life of our Church today. It is an integral part of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and ordination to the priesthood and to the episcopacy (in the former the ordaining bishop anoints the palms of the hands of the one just ordained as a priest and in the latter, the ordaining bishop pours the oil over the head of the man being ordained as a bishop). There is only one other moment in Church life when the oil of Sacred Chrism is used for something other than the administration of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders and that  is when an altar is consecrated in a new Church or a remodeled Church and in the case of the former, it is also used on the walls of a totally new Church. The Cathedral asks for a small stipend of each parish to cover the cost of the oils/perfume and that has remained the same ever since I arrived (making me perhaps the only oil producing leader who has not raised oil prices in sixteen years).

Breathing into the urns holding the oil. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Finally, at one point during the consecration of the Sacred Chrism, the bishop breathes into the urns holding the oil. Approaching seventy one years of age, I notice that the length of time I am able to breathe is becoming less and less with each passing year. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Chrism Mass (and it still is in Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica) was celebrated on Holy Thursday morning and the priests had to rush out immediately for their parishes to prepare for the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper later that night. After the Council it began to be moved from that date to another day either in Holy Week or the week just prior because of distances to be travelled. Think of this for a moment. The Diocese of St. Petersburg and its five counties (Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus) is only 4,500 square miles roughly. My friend Bishop Paul Etienne who  is the bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming has the whole state or 100,000 square miles. Some parishes drive six hours to attend the Chrism Mass there. I am so lucky in so many ways, including and especially the priests and deacons who share the mantle of pastoral ministry and leadership with me. If you are in search of cheap oil but rich in symbol, cast a glance at the ambery in your parish where the oils are displayed and thank the Lord for this great sign of blessing and consecration.

Finally, click here if you wish to read my homily at today’s Mass of the Chrism. You can click here to watch the video of it. To see more photos taken during the Chrism Mass, click here. More Thursday on the first night of the Triduum.



Friday, February 17th, 2012

Giving the homily during Mass at Clearwater Central Catholic High School. Photo courtesy of Maria Mertens.

The activities surrounding the HHS regulations and my subsequent engagement in it caused 2012’s Catholic Schools Week to come and go without mention in this space and I am sorry for that. My own week began with the celebration of a school liturgy at Clearwater Central Catholic High School, highlighted by almost every Junior and Senior male forming a choir to sing one hymn in Latin for me – delightful – but they had better plan on other life work than singing.

We have twenty-seven elementary schools (one of them private) and two special education elementary schools in this diocese, four diocesan high schools and two private Catholic high schools. There are  7527  children enrolled in our elementary schools, K through 8 and 2944  children enrolled in the six high schools. There are also Early Childhood Centers and Day and After Care. It is a major endeavor of the Church in the United States where there remains a much higher ratio of Catholic Schools per Catholic in the nation to other countries. Today, however, the challenge of maintaining this school system has increased exponentially with rising costs forcing many parents to choose otherwise for their children. And the recession of the past few years has not helped either as Catholic education is for more and more parents no longer an affordable option as tuition and fees rise. So an annual shot in the arm and reminder of how important these schools are for the transmission of the faith is a great thing.

On Saturday night, our Catholic Foundation, which raises and distributes money for Catholic education, held its annual fundraiser and about 540 people were in attendance. This event has been growing each of the last three years thanks to a very dedicated, small committee of laity who give of their time, talent and treasure. Three years ago we invited Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to address the assembly and last year our guest speaker was Dr. Carolyn Woo, then Dean of the Mendoza School of Business at Notre Dame University and now President and CEO of our own Catholic Relief Services.

Donald Cardinal Wuerl from the Archdiocese of Washington (DC) giving the keynote speech. Photo courtesy of Pedro L. Carrillo of P.L. Carillo Photography.

On Saturday, our guest and keynote speaker was Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington (DC) and noted author of many catechisms for the Church since the Second Vatican Council. His Eminence spoke most convincingly of both the need for the “New Evangelization” for our Church and the special role that Catholic Education plays in helping spread the Gospel and reinvigorate those people who have drifted from the faith (watch his speech here). Relative to Catholic Schools, he noted that there are four pillars which must be given attention: Catholic Identity, Academic Excellence, Accessibility and Affordability. He pointed out that the first and third pillars were my responsibility as bishop, the second that of our diocesan Office of Schools and Centers and the fourth that of generous benefactors like those gathered that evening for the fundraising dinner. A quick take on how much his presence and that evening brought to our tuition assistance fund (we now distribute slightly more than one million dollars per year in tuition assistance for our schools) would be something in the area of  $330,000  dollars.

Presenting Mark Detlor with his award as his mother Cathy Detlor and Sister Regina Ozuzu, prinicpal of Bishop Larkin Interparochial School, watch. Photo courtesy of Pedro L. Carillo of P.L Carillo Photography.

If the value of Catholic elementary education was ever brought home to those in attendance including this aging bishop, it was an eighth grader from Bishop Larkin Interparochial School in Port Richey, Mark Detlor, who won the diocesan-wide essay contest on “what Catholic education means today.” As did the winner last year, he brought the attendees to their feet at the end of his presentation for its insights, candor and appreciation of sacrifice. His prize, was one year of tuition to attend Bishop McLaughlin High School (worth about $11,000). I am glad that Cardinal Wuerl had left by that moment or he might have left us with the impression that we outstaged him with an eighth-grader.

Presenting the Catholic School Education Leadership Award to Jane Hughes. Photo courtesy of Pedro L Carillo of P.L. Carrillo Photography.

Jane Hughes, a wonderful wife and mother from east Pasco county, received the Catholic School Education Leadership Award, our highest award for the support of Catholic education, for her long dedication to Saint Anthony’s School in San Antonio, Florida. She deserved it, believe me!

My heartfelt thanks to the planners, executors, and attendees for helping us bring to an end in a truly effective way this year’s Catholic Schools Week (two weeks here in this diocese, thank God!)





Friday, December 3rd, 2010

As I promised in my blog entry “AND WITH YOUR SPIRIT” videos of Bishop Cupich’s presentation on the new translation of the Roman Missal are now available on our diocesan video site.  The videos are divided into the three parts of Bishop Cupich’s presentation: History of Language and Translation in the Mass, The People’s Parts, and The Priest’s Parts.  The videos are also included below so that you can watch them here.  You may also be interested to download a PDF handout of the presentation slides From Sacramentary to New Roman Missal.

Mass Video

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Thanks to the Campus Ministry staff at Notre Dame, the video of the Mass yesterday is available as part of their “Masscast” so that you can watch this Mass if you are interested.  They make both the 10:00 am (on CatholicTV) and 11:45 am Masses (on ND Prayercast) available online every week.

The text of this homily was published in my blog yesterday, “Sunday Morning at Notre Dame

Notre Dame Prayer Cast - Mass Cast Logo


Saturday, June 12th, 2010

As promised, the audio/video of the major presentations for last May’s Living Eucharist convocation are now available on the diocesan website ( You can if you have the interest and the time click on the Living Eucharist page on the website and watch and listen to the entire, unedited presentations of Fathers Hehir, Radcliffe, and Murray. The several thousand people who attended the convocation in the flesh reacted most positively to the presenters whose theme was, borrowing again the words of St. Augustine, “become whom you receive” and be sent to bring and be Christ to our world. It was not our intention to record in video the presentations but they were recorded and shown simultaneously with the presentation on large screens so that those far away from the stage could watch the interaction of presenter and participants. The camera company then turned their recordings over to us and after several attempts to convert them to a usable format, we were able to put them up for all the view in their entirety.

I watched them again on a long flight this past week and enjoyed them once again so if you were unable to be present, you can now participate via your own computer and/or revisit the presentations if you were there. I gained so much more from listening to them on the plane than in their original presentation because I did not need to worry about anything except the plane safely landing.

Our efforts at communicating with you are increasing proportionately to our comfort in the technology available. You can now listen to major presentations given in the diocese at various times via podcasts and we are even using iTunes and YouTube to spread the word. Try us, I think you will like what we are doing to evangelize, share and spread the faith.



Monday, March 1st, 2010

You may recall that last year for the first time and during Lent we had what we called “The Light is ON for You“. Every Catholic Church in the diocese was open one evening at the same time for the purpose of making the Sacrament of Reconciliation (“Confession” to most of us) available at the same time everywhere – no phone calls to ascertain when confessions would be heard, checking the bulletin for the same. Every Church was open and priests were hearing confessions from five to eight p.m. throughout the diocese. It was an idea inaugurated by Archbishop Donald Wuerl and the priests of Washington, D.C. (no need to reinvent the wheel) and I brought it to our Presbyteral Council. Legitimate concern was expressed in that body concerning the effect it might have on Lenten Penance Services and would anyone come or not. But they “let the old man” have this one and as regular readers of this blog will recall, our parish Churches were “slammed” with people seeking the sacrament. This year the priests themselves asked to repeat the experience, and on Thursday, March 11th, from five in the evening until eight, every one of our Churches and missions will be open again with priests hearing confessions throughout the evening. In subsequent years until it becomes passe or few use it, the opportunity will always be provided on the Thursday of the Third Week of Lent.

Why the success here in this diocese and in other places? I will offer my thoughts. It is often difficult and nearly impossible to find out what time confessions will be heard or a Lenten Penance Service scheduled if you failed to bring the parish bulletin home, misplaced it, or do not regularly attend week-end Mass. This way you are guaranteed that if you find a Catholic Church on Thursday, March 11th, from 5-8 p.m., at least one and perhaps several priests will be there to welcome you back to the sacrament. A second reason, perhaps you are just a little uncomfortable confessing to a priest in your home parish and wish a higher level of anonymity. A third reason, you may pass a Catholic Church every night commuting from work to home or from one of your children’s after school activities and on this night, at least you can just stop in even though it is not your parish. Last year the priests reported they were amazed both at the number of penitents and the good confessions after being away from the sacrament for a long time. Whatever the reason, it met a need and our priests are happy to make themselves available.

To help remind you of the evening, there will be some 100+ thirty-second “spots” running on BayNews 9, ESPN, ESPN2, and the ABC Family Channel (all on Bright House Networks) between now and March 11th.

Spirit FM 90.5 will also be reminding its listeners of the upcoming opportunity throughout the next ten days. Parishes will highlight the opportunity in their bulletins for this coming week-end. Newspaper ads are out of our price range which I regret but we will be using whatever opportunities are afforded for getting the word out. Each year we will become a little more sophisticated in communicating this opportunity.

So come home if you have been away from this marvelous sacramental encounter with the loving, forgiving Jesus. Experience the relief of the words of absolution and the welcome of a priest acting like the father in the parable of the prodigal son. It is not just Motel Six that is leaving the lights on for you, but the Church of your Baptism offering an unusual opportunity for reconciliation, wiping the slate clean, experiencing the love of God through a wonderful sacramental moment. Try us on March 11th, you will like us. We are leaving the light on for you.


The Light is ON for You