On Saturday, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone offered a Requiem Mass for the homeless at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Current and former city officials and civic leaders attended the Mass, alongside more than 400 worshippers and Catholic ministry leaders in the area. “It was beautiful and it was holy,” said Cordileone in a release.
Cordileone offered the Mass for the repose of those who died on the streets and to demonstrate “profound respect for the equal dignity of every human life.” The Mass featured the music of Frank La Rocca, composer-in-residence of the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship.
“The magnificent, sorrowful beauty of Frank La Rocca’s music awoke in me a profound sensitivity to the suffering of the homeless people we pass every day and of our common humanity as beloved children of God,” Cordileone said. Cordileone delivered the homily in which he spoke about the challenges the homeless face. He also connected their experience to that of Christ in the Eucharist, which is kept in a tabernacle, “that is, a tent,” he said, referring to it as a temporary shelter.
“Those who live among us without a permanent home, then, provide us a powerful reminder that we are people on pilgrimage, that this is not our true home; we are in movement toward our final destiny, our permanent home which lies beyond this world,” he said. Following the Mass, worshippers gathered at the Cathedral Plaza where they chanted a new litany to the Patron Saints of the Homeless, composed by James Matthew Wilson, poet-in-residence at the Benedict XVI Institute.
Cordileone and others then walked to St. Anthony’s Dining Hall where they shared a meal with people experiencing homelessness.
“Every day the Franciscans, our team at St. Anthony’s, and our volunteers feed and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ who need us—creating a future where all people flourish,” said Nils Behnke, CEO of St. Anthony’s Foundation. “St. Anthony’s was honored to partner with the Archdiocese to provide hospitality for the Requiem Mass for the Homeless on our block.”
In February, Cordileone announced his support for a “Year for the Homeless” initiative launched by the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, which will coordinate this year’s liturgy. He said Masses for the homeless in 2018 and 2019.
“But then what touched me most was the testimony of a mother in Qaraqosh,” Pope Francis said.
“She is a woman who lost her son in the first Islamic State bombings, and she said a word: ‘forgiveness.’ I was moved.”
By Autumn Jones