Archbishop asks conference to pray for pope's visit

September 19, 1994|By Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore Archbishop William H. Keeler asked a gathering of area Catholics yesterday to pray in preparation for the visit of Pope John Paul II.

The archbishop celebrated Mass at the Baltimore Arena to wrap up a three-day conference designed to prepare area Catholics for the pontiff's scheduled visit to Baltimore next month.

"You have to have your ears open spiritually," Archbishop Keeler said during a brief interview yesterday at the downtown arena. "There is an element of religious faith and devotion which almost at times seems to defy reporting but is a real part of the lives of so many people. The more closely we are in contact with Jesus, with God, in our prayers and lives, the more prepared we are to listen to the message which lifts up the central message of the Sermon on the Mount."

Archbishop Keeler spoke on the last day of the National Marian Conference, which on Saturday attracted about 2,500 people. Attendance for the event was down from the most recent conference two years ago, which drew 5,000 people from across the country, but M. Jenkins Cromwell Jr., a Baltimore businessman who helped organize the conference, was not disheartened by the smaller turnout.

"For those who have been here, it has been a very meaningful conference," he said. "Christ would have gone to the cross for one single soul, for one single sinner. Spiritually, it's been a 10."

Before celebrating the Mass yesterday, Archbishop Keeler briefed an audience of about 500 on the pontiff's itinerary for a brief visit to the United States that will include an Oct. 23 stop in Baltimore.

The pope, who visited Baltimore in 1976 as a cardinal and saw the city in 1969, will celebrate Mass at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and participate in a "procession of the people of faith," or parade, the archbishop said.

Archbishop Keeler asked area Catholics to prepare for the visit by praying.

Concluding his remarks before the Mass, he said, "And pray for good weather, too."

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