MERCY NIGHT AT THE SHRINE

The following is excerpted from a June 28 article in California Catholic Daily (cal-catholic.com):

Over San Francisco's "Pride" weekend, Catholics offered three separate evangelical outreaches to the city of St. Francis.

On Friday, June 23, the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi hosted San Francisco's second 'Mercy Night.' Teams of Catholics, mostly young, went out into the busy North Beach neighborhood, which, on a Friday night, is filled with young people looking for a good time.

The evangelizers carried lanterns out into the streets as a sort of ice-breaking device, to start a conversation and to invite those passing by to visit the Shrine. Inside the Shrine the Blessed Sacrament was exposed as Catholics knelt in prayer and meditation. Three priests were on hand to hear confessions, and passersby were invited to deposit their prayer intentions into a basket and to light a candle at the foot of the sanctuary. There were also Catholics on hand who offered to pray for the visitors' intentions.

The outreach worked—during the second hour a group of well dressed young ladies entered the church, trying, without much success, to walk softly in their high heels as they approached the altar. They knelt at the foot of the sanctuary, with their candles, prayed for a little before leaving. Later one of the evangelizers told CalCatholic that the young women were part of a wedding party who were out celebrating, and that one of them was getting married. When they heard about Mercy Night, they decided to enter the Shrine and pray for her. Throughout Mercy Night, which lasted from 8-11PM there was an average of about 35-40 people in the Shrine.

Fr. John would like to thank Ed Hopfner of the Archdiocese Office of Marriage and Family Life, the team of bold and enthusiastic young adults who facilitated the flow of people; and Fr. Hai, Fr. Patrick, and Fr. Joseph for their presence to hear confessions and pray with our visitors. Thanks also to California Catholic Daily for their article mention. The National Shrine hopes to be a regular host for events such as Mercy Night in the future.

Welcome to the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi and the namesake of our city, San Francisco. The National Shrine is the property of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and it consists of our historic Church built in 1849 and our beautiful Chapel (La Porziuncola Nuova, or Little Portion) built in 2008.

The National Shrine is not only located in the heart of San Francisco where Italian North Beach and Chinatown meet, it is "The Heart of San Francisco" in a singular way where Heaven and Earth meet like no other place in our city.

One of the reasons this Shrine is unique is its very urban location in the second most densely populated city in the country. But in the midst of an often rowdy, noisy, bawdy, and chaotic neighborhood (a bronze marker in the sidewalk reminds us that this was once "The Barbary Coast"), the Shrine's Church and the Porziuncola offer an oasis of peace, quiet, serenity, and refreshment to the thirsty spirit.

Saint Francis was very aware that all of God's creation is holy and that it reflects his beauty, truth, and goodness. But Francis appreciated churches, especially, because he knew that in these sacred spaces people could find and recognize the presence of God's spirit more easily than "in the world." That is why the Little Poor Man of Assisi dedicated a good portion of his life to rebuilding old abandoned churches, like San Damiano (where he had heard the voice of Jesus Christ) and Saint Mary of the Angels Porziuncola (or Little Portion).

We hope during your online visit to The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi you will experience something of the reverence, tranquility, and blessings people find when they enter our actual doors. Thus, we invite you to take the virtual tours, light a candle, ask for our prayers, and to return to this site as often as you like, while allowing "The Heart of San Francisco" to become a place where your own heart can find a haven of rest. Yes, leave your heart in San Francisco!

We also invite you to take the opportunity to participate in the mission of The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi by sharing with us your financial support, either by making a donation or by shopping at our online store. But even if you're unable to give anything at this time, please know that you are always welcome to visit us and to support our work with your prayers. We sincerely appreciate and thank you for your generosity of spirit.

St. Francis of Assisi Mission

The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi, as with The Archdiocese of San Francisco, has a mission that is rooted in the Gospels and the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Central to that teaching is the inherent dignity and sacredness of each human being.

We educate and advocate on this dignity in relation to the unborn child, the prisoner on death row, the homeless and hungry person on our streets, the elderly, the ill and disabled faced with the threat of assisted suicide, the stranger in our midst, and the poor and marginalized in our society and throughout the world. We are neither right nor left, Republican nor Democrat, but we formulate our agenda by the standard of human dignity that is reflected in our faith tradition.

  1. It is the purpose of the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi to provide more abundant means of salvation, through the rich liturgical and devotional life of the Roman Catholic Church for the Christian faithful, including those who come as pilgrims from around the world to the City of San Francisco and the greater San Francisco Bay Area, who seek to encounter the living God through religious worship and special devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan saints.
  2. It is the further purpose of the National Shrine to welcome, share and extend this same spiritual experience and devotion to St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan saints to pilgrims and visitors of all faiths, religions, denominations, and nationalities.
  3. The Capuchin Franciscan Friars (OFM Cap.) and Staff of the National Shrine, therefore, provide a pastoral (i.e., welcoming and prayerful) environment with the hope that in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, spiritual nourishment healing and reconciliation will be found by all who visit the Shrine.