Pope Francis meets with pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Ozamis in the Philippines  (Vatican Media)

By Francesca Merlo

Nov 18 2023

Pope Francis welcomes pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Ozamiz in the Philippines, and urges them to care for others and be responsible stewards of the Church and Creation.

Pope Francis extended a warm welcome to the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Ozamiz in the Philippines on Friday, as they made a Marian pilgrimage to Rome on their Golden Jubilee celebration.

The Pope expressed his joy in commemorating the establishment of the Archdiocese and thanked Archbishop Martin Sarmiento Jumoad and the entire pilgrim group for their visit.

Sacredness of visits to shrines

“Pilgrimage to shrines is an eloquent expression of trust in God,” Pope Francis began.

He drew a parallel to the biblical narrative of Hannah’s plea at the shrine of Shiloh, where her petition was met with divine grace and fulfillment. Emphasising the significance of such sacred encounters, the Pope underscored Mary’s pivotal role as an advocate of divine mercy and love, urging the pilgrims to seek her intercession.

Mary’s exemplary devotion

“It is Mary who shows us that being followers of Jesus involves listening to His Word,” the Pope said.

He upheld the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Church’s foremost missionary disciple, reflecting on her visit to her relative Elizabeth as a model of sharing the word of God.

“I am happy that yours is a Marian pilgrimage,” Pope Francis stressed, emphasising the significance of Mary’s guidance in nurturing a deeper connection to Christ.

He expressed hope that this pilgrimage would transform each participant into fervent missionaries, empowered to spread the message of compassion and love.

Deeper commitment to our baptismal call

Encouraging the entire Archdiocesan community, the Pope called for a deeper commitment to their baptismal call as part of a life of faithful discipleship.

“Nourished by the preaching of the Word of God and the celebration of the Sacraments,” the Pope said, “the Church of Ozamiz will contribute to the advancement of God’s kingdom of justice, unity, and peace.”

Pope Francis then invited the faithful to be models of compassion and solidarity, reaching out to the marginalized and mirroring Jesus’s charity.

He stressed the inseparable link between caring for one another and safeguarding the environment, and he called for responsible stewardship of creation.

“Journey together in fraternal solidarity”, the Pope urged, inviting the Filipino Archdiocese of Ozamiz to discern new paths guided by the Holy Spirit for the proclamation of the Gospel.

He concluded by assuring the pilgrims of his spiritual closeness and invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession for grace and blessings on their faith journey. – Vatican News