Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Cardinal's Christmas Gift: Coming Home

As previously noted, this Christmas sees the loss of one much-cherished Yuletide tradition: after a quarter-century as the Vatican's "voice" of the Holy Night, the River City's own Cardinal John Foley won't be providing the commentary for the Pope's Midnight (, 10pm) Mass, the world's most-watched religious broadcast of each year.

That said, Foley's departure from the booth comes in the service of what he'd easily consider a greater good. For the first time since his 1984 "exile" to Rome as president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the 74 year-old "patriarch" of Philadelphia Catholicism is home for Christmas -- and lest anyone's keen and able to join in, he'll be basking in the joy with two local liturgies over the coming days.

On Christmas morning, the cardinal will preside and preach the 11.30 Mass at Sacred Heart in Manoa, his first assignment as a priest which he's held as his home-church ever since, and a 10.30 on Holy Family Sunday at his boyhood parish, Holy Spirit in Sharon Hill. (If you're going, head out early -- Manoa might be an 1,800-seater, but much like his daily Lenten Masses there as a young curate, Foley packs the place out the doors every time he returns.)

It's been said before but bears repeating: if Macy's really knew what it was doing, they'd scrap Julie Andrews and have the church's John Facenda narrate the Light Show....

More on that another day; in the meanwhile, for those who missed it before (or just want to see it again), let's give the famous sign-off one last spin: