Closings & Delays

Diocese of Harrisburg reflects as Pope Benedict prepares to step down

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Pope Benedict XVI waves during a mass at the St. Peter Basilica in Vatican

In the Diocese of Harrisburg plans are taking shape for activities and services related to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of his successor.  Bishop Joseph P. McFadden will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Ministry of Pope Benedict XVI on Friday, February 22 at noon in St. Patrick Cathedral, Harrisburg.

Canon lawyers Dr. Carol L. Houghton and Msgr. William J. King will offer a presentation on the norms and procedures for the election of a Pope, on Sunday February 24 at 10 a.m. at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton church in Upper Allen Township.  Dr. Houghton, a Tribunal judge and Chancellor of the Diocese of Harrisburg and Adjunct Professor of Canon Law at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmittsburg, and Monsignor King, pastor St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish and Adjunct Professor of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, will review the Canon Law norms governing the election of the Roman Pontiff.  This 40-minute presentation will be held in the Parish Center, at 310 Hertzler Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055.  It will begin after the parish’s 9 AM Mass and end before the 11 AM Mass. For directions, see the parish website at or call the parish office at 697-2614.  All are welcome to attend.

Saint Catherine Laboure Parish, 4000 Derry Street, Harrisburg, PA will have two large scrolls available in the narthex of the church on the weekend of February 23 & 24 for parishioners to sign with their greetings, support and prayers for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.  There will be two special Masses offered for the Holy Father: Wednesday, February 27 at 5:30 p.m. and Thursday, February 28 at 9:00 a.m. with the school children.  The scrolls containing the signatures will be blessed at the Mass on February 28.  It will then be sent to the Vatican for the Holy Father.

Throughout the Diocese of Harrisburg the period of transition reminds all that this is a unique time of prayer for Pope Benedict XVI, for the Church, and for his successor, the future Pope. Priests will include special prayer intentions for the Pope and his successor at Masses.

All during this period Catholics are being asked to say devotional prayers of every sort, especially the Holy Rosary. These should be offered for Pope Benedict, the Cardinal electors and the future Pope. The practice of praying the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory be to the Father, outside the celebration of Mass, for the intentions of the Holy Father is encouraged, especially for his health and well-being. Prayers explicitly for the Pope are also encouraged.

During the final days of Pope Benedict XVI’s reign as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Church parishes and other institutions within the Diocese of Harrisburg are asked to set aside the three days prior to the Holy Father’s time of renunciation (February 26, 27, 28) to celebrate the Mass for the Pope.

All levels of educational institutions and other institutions within the Diocese of Harrisburg are being encouraged to arrange, in addition to a Mass if possible, occasions for the Liturgy of the Hours or a Liturgy of the Word or Eucharistic Exposition or devotional prayer to pray for Pope Benedict XVI. It is hoped that this will be done in the three days prior to the Holy Father’s time of renunciation (February 26, 27, 28).

During the Sede Vacante or time of a vacant seat when there is no pope the following is being planned. At St. Patrick Cathedral, Harrisburg on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, Bishop Joseph McFadden will offer the Noon Mass for the Election of a New Pope. All are welcome to this Mass.  Parishes and other institutions within the Diocese are asked to select a suitable occasion soon after March 1, 2013, other than a Sunday of Lent, to celebrate the Mass for the Election of a Pope. 

Source: Diocese of Harrisburg

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