Pope Francis: I Leave ‘With a Heart Full of Gratitude and Hope’

‘Your care for me and your generous welcome are a sign of your love for Jesus and your faithfulness to him,’ said the Pope, at the end of his Sept. 22-27 U.S. papal visit.

Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families on Sept. 26 in Philadelphia.
Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families on Sept. 26 in Philadelphia. (photo: © L'Osservatore Romano)

PHILADELPHIA — As he concluded his historic visit to the United States, Pope Francis thanked organizers and volunteers, saying that he concludes his trip with appreciation and hope. 

“Your care for me and your generous welcome are a sign of your love for Jesus and your faithfulness to him,” Pope Francis said. 

“So too is your care for the poor, the sick, the homeless and the immigrant, your defense of life at every stage, and your concern for family life. In all of this, you recognize that Jesus is in your midst and that your care for one another is care for Jesus himself.”

Preparing to leave, the Pope said that he does so “with a heart full of gratitude and hope.”

Sept. 27 marked the end of the Pope’s trip to the United States, which also included stops in Washington, D.C., and New York, culminating at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this weekend.

The Pope thanked Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, as well as the civil authorities, donors, volunteers and organizers that made the gathering possible.

He also thanked the families who shared their testimonies. 

“It is not so easy to speak openly of one’s life journey! But their honesty and humility before the Lord and each of us showed the beauty of family life in all its richness and diversity.”

“I pray that our days of prayer and reflection on the importance of the family for a healthy society will inspire families to continue to strive for holiness and to see the Church as their constant companion, whatever the challenges they may face.”

Reflecting on the rest of his U.S. trip, the Holy Father said that it was “particularly moving for me to canonize Saint Junípero Serra, who reminds us all of our call to be missionary disciples.” 

He added that he was touched “to stand with my brothers and sisters of other religions at Ground Zero, that place which speaks so powerfully of the mystery of evil. Yet we know with certainty that evil never has the last word, and that, in God’s merciful plan, love and peace triumph over all.”

Furthermore, he promised his prayers for the U.S. people, saying, “This land has been blessed with tremendous gifts and opportunities. I pray that you may all be good and generous stewards of the human and material resources entrusted to you.”

“I thank the Lord that I was able to witness the faith of God’s people in this country, as manifested in our moments of prayer together and evidenced in so many works of charity.”

Concluding, he asked those present: “do not let your enthusiasm for Jesus, his Church, our families, and the broader family of society run dry.”

“May our days together bear fruit that will last, generosity and care for others that will endure!” he said. “Just as we have received so much from God — gifts freely given us, and not of our own making — so let us freely give to others in return.”

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Shannon Mullen, Editor-in-Chief of Catholic News Agency.

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“As a young newspaper reporter, I drew great inspiration from Pope John Paul II’s annual remarks on World Communications Day,” Mullen said adding, “He emphasized that even those in the secular media could serve as apostles in the cause of human dignity, justice and the pursuit of truth."