Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, 2013
Dear Friends of The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi:
This is my first opportunity to greet you as the rector of The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi. I took over from Fr. Gregory Coiro, O.F.M.Cap., on July 1, and Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone formally installed me on July 21 at a beautiful Sunday Mass during which we also announced the members of The Shrine’s new Board of Trustees.
The ministry of The National Shrine of St. Francis has gained national and international attention since our announcement that we will construct St. Francis Rest, a columbarium for pets with a Hall of Honor for service animals, under the steps of the church. Church leaders such as Archbishop Cordileone and Bishop Michael Barber, S.J., of Oakland, as well as animal lovers everywhere have endorsed this initiative as an innovative way not only to memorialize significant animals but to support the mission of The Shrine as well.
We will see greater involvement by other Capuchin Franciscan friars in the ministry of The Shrine. Already, Fr. James Johnson, O.F.M.Cap., and Fr. Alan Wilson, O.F.M.Cap., assist us on my days off, as well as Fr. Greg when his health permits. Our student friars from St. Conrad’s House of Studies in Berkeley, under the direction of Br. Peter Ciolino, O.F.M.Cap., will be coming to The Shrine to minister to the poor and homeless in the area. To help us manage the finances of St. Francis Rest will be Br. Mark Mance, O.F.M. Cap., who also serves as the guardian of our provincial house, St. Francis of Assisi Friary, in Burlingame.
Another exciting new development is the expansion of our ministry of hospitality with the launching of our Docents Program on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Whereas previously the emphasis was on guarding the Lady Chapel, La Nuova Porziuncola, by members of the Knights of St. Francis, the Docents will guard the entire Shrine, especially the church where Our Lord is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. All are welcome to serve as Docents, greeting pilgrims and visitors from around the world.
One of the things I am most concerned about in the life of The Shrine is the quality of the public prayer we offer. That is why I am particularly happy that we have Vincent Stadlin on board as our Music Director and Composer-in- Residence. He will work with me to ensure that our Liturgies are both reverent and celebratory.
Let me invite you to participate in the life of The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi by taking part in our annual Novena to St. Francis beginning on September 26 and culminating with the Solemn Mass of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4. Nine days of Masses and devotional prayers will be offered for you and your special intentions.
While we would be most grateful if you could send us an offering with your special intentions, please know that this is not required in order for you to participate. We look forward to receiving your requests.
May God bless you and your loved ones and, through the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi, may you have the peace that only Jesus can give.
Pax et Bonum,
Fr. Harold Snider, O.F.M.Cap.