When the Catholic Church canonizes two popes this Sunday, one bishop from our area will be a lot closer to the festival of holiness than he anticipated.
"Well, I didn't figure I'd have any chance to concelebrate the Mass," said Bishop John J. McIntyre of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. "But I sent a fax to the office that handles all of the papal ceremonies and I couldn't believe it, but a day later, I got an answer back."
Bishop McIntyre leaves for the Vatican today to prepare for the canonization Mass which will be held in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, April 27, 2014. Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will both been canonized, which raises them to the level of sainthood in the church.
"It's a real thrill. Pope John Paul II was really the pope of my youth and the whole time I was in the seminary and my early years in the priesthood," said Bishop McIntyre, who is 50. "So to be able to concelebrate the Mass in which he'll be canonized along with John the XXIII, is just a real privilege for me."
Several steps are required in order for someone to reach sainthood in the Catholic Church. Those steps include the certification of two miracles. John Paul II is credited with curing a French nun of Parkinson's disease after she prayed to him, and curing a Costa Rican woman who had an aneurysm.
The miraculous healing of an Italian nun, who was dying after stomach surgery, is attributed to Pope John XXIII. In a rare exception however, Pope Francis waived the need for a second miracle and fast-tracked Pope John's canonization. Pope John is remembered most for the calling of the Second Vatican Council in 1959 and then overseeing what became sweeping reforms in the church, commonly referred to as Vatican II.
According to the Vatican news website, Bishop McIntyre will be among about 1,000 clerics, which include cardinals, priests and bishops, concelebrating the mass. Most of them will also distribute Holy Communion to the faithful.
With at least one million people expected to attend the canonization, McIntyre will get a feel for the type of crowd expected if Pope Francis says Mass next year in Philadelphia. Just last month, Bishop McIntyre traveled to Rome with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and other delegates who are helping plan for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. When he received the email from the Vatican inviting him back for the canonization, the first person he called was a classmate from the seminary.
"The two of us are going together for the canonization, so I'm going to send the same fax for him and hopefully I'll get the same answer for him!"