The Archdiocese of Washington has borrowed an iron cross from Dahlgren Chapel to feature during the Mass of the Canonization of Junipero Serra over which Pope Francis is to preside on Sept. 23 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The cross, which Fr. G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., rediscovered lying in the basement of Healy Hall in 1989, was believed to have been present when Fr. Andrew White, S.J., celebrated the first Roman Catholic mass in the English-speaking colonies on St. Clement’s Island, located in southern Maryland and part of the Archdiocese of Washington.
“We thought it was a wonderful connection with Georgetown and the Jesuits to have this cross included in the sanctuary for the mass,” Jane Belford, a member of the Papal Visit Planning Committee of the Archdiocese of Washington, told reporters at a media briefing on the papal visit at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies campus last Thursday.
“We have, after all, a Jesuit pope. This is his first mass in the Archdiocese of Washington, not unlike Andrew White,” she said.
The cross, an aspect of the mass that reflects the pope’s Jesuit heritage, will be featured on the front of the lectern from which liturgical readings are to be proclaimed for the Sept. 23 mass.
However, the first Jesuit pope to visit Washington, D.C. is not expected to make a scheduled visit to the nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university.
“We, of course, thought he ought to come. Schedules are schedules, but it’s my understanding that there will be Jesuit participation [from Georgetown during the Pope’s activities],” said John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life.
The Catholic University of America (CUA) is involved in the preparations of the large-scale mass that the pope will hold next to its campus.
According to Belford, architectural students at CUA participated in a competition to design the altar, ambo, all of the furniture used during the mass, and the chair that Pope Francis will sit on, which are all being specially created for the occasion.
Additionally, a studio set up at CUA is to produce and broadcast a pre-mass program to provide information and entertainment before the mass.
Georgetown University is to hold a number of initiatives and panel discussions around the papal visit as well. The Center for Social Justice and Campus Ministry are promoting the “Walk with Francis” pledge, which aims to compel those who sign the pledge to follow the pope’s example of faith and service.
The Healey Family Student Center is also planning to host a viewing party of Pope Francis’ Sept. 24 address to the Senate and the House of Representatives. Pope Francis is to become the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress in U.S. history.