Statement of Archbishop Justin Regali

«My Mission Involves Solidarity, Communion, and Working and Praying»

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PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania, JULY 15, 2003 ( Here is the statement of Archbishop Justin Regali when his appointment as new archbishop of Philadelphia was made public.

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After having had the great privilege for over nine years of serving as Archbishop of St. Louis, I am deeply honored to be appointed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II as Archbishop of Philadelphia.

With immense respect I greet, for the first time, both the local church of Philadelphia, beginning with Cardinal Bevilacqua a friend of many years, and also the civic community of Philadelphia that has meant so much in the history and development of our nation. I greet the civic officials of this City and State.

Obviously, as a Bishop of the Catholic Church I come here with a mission: to proclaim in your midst Jesus Christ and His saving and uplifting Gospel of love and life. I come to serve in His name. My mission is, however, part of the mission of the entire Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which involves solidarity, communion and working and praying together of all the people who make up this local Church.

At the outset I would like to state how much I value and need the collaboration of all our priests. My ministry is essentially liked to theirs. They mean everything to me. I wish to greet them fraternally at this time and assure them that I shall always try to support them as they endeavor to live out their important vocation of service to the people in generosity and integrity of life.

I also desire to greet the Auxiliary Bishops — active and retired — the Bishops and people of all the neighboring dioceses, especially the suffragan dioceses of the Province of Philadelphia. A warm greeting goes to the Eastern rite Catholics, especially those of the Ukrainian Archeparchy of Philadelphia, together with their shepherd Archbishop Stefan Soroka. In the weeks and months and years ahead, I look forward to warm, cordial and prayerful relations with all our brothers and sisters of the Christian faith as we make our journey together, always pointed toward the unity for which Christ prayed.

I greet with esteem the members of the Jewish community, linked to us by special bonds. I greet members of other faiths, including the Buddhist, Hindu and especially Muslim communities. I express solidarity with all people of good will in the great cause of the defense of human life and the promotion of human dignity.

I express gratitude for the welcome extended to me here in Philadelphia, with special thanks to all the representatives of the media, whose help is vital in the diffusion of every uplifting message of truth and love.

From this first moment of contact with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia I wish to acknowledge and recognize the many religious — men and women, brothers, sisters and priests — who serve the Church in so many ways and have helped Philadelphia become what it is today. Two of these religious have become an inspiration for all generations of our people. I am referring to St. John Neumann and St. Katharine Drexel. I wish to express a special word of esteem and gratitude to all the cloistered nuns in Philadelphia.

In our parishes, besides our priests I greet our seminarians and permanent deacons and all the faithful laity who make up the Church of Philadelphia and who live their faith day in and day out. I greet our families, our parents, our children, our dedicated single people, the elderly, the sick, those who in different ways help carry on the mission of the Church through their efforts on behalf of Catholic education, healthcare, social justice, charitable services and in many other areas.

With all its ethnic richness may the Church of Philadelphia always be authentic in holiness and service. May my own service be a continuation of what has been carried on and accomplished so well by Cardinal Bevilacqua. May it promote the unity and vitality of this great community. And may all of us be conscious of Saint Paul’s great encouragement: to help bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (cf. Gal 6:2).

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