Bookmark and Share

April 2, 2007


Cardinal Justin Rigali announced at a news conference today that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will begin a year-long Bicentennial celebration on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007. At the morning news conference held in the Archdiocesan Office Center in Philadelphia, Cardinal Rigali said, "It is my hope that clergy, religious and lay persons will participate in the many and varied celebrations of this bicentennial year leading up to the actual anniversary on April 8, 2008. Through the intercession of Saints John Neumann and Katharine Drexel I pray that we may grow together and become more faithful in our service of God and neighbor."

Joining Cardinal Rigali at the news conference were the Auxiliary Bishops of Philadelphia, including Most Reverend Robert Maginnis, Episcopal Liaison for the Bicentennial; Most Reverend Joseph Cistone, Most Reverend Joseph McFadden and Most Reverend Daniel Thomas. Also helping to unveil the plans for the Bicentennial was Reverend Joseph McLoone, Chairman of the Bicentennial and Pastor of Saint Katharine Drexel Parish in Chester, Delaware County. The Cardinal thanked all of those who are planning for the Bicentennial and highlighted a super-priority for the Jubilee Year, "There are many people working to make this year successful, celebratory and fruitful in good works. During this year I am asking everyone to pray in particular for an increase of priestly vocations for the benefit of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, so that the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament may be ours now and always!"

In front of a backdrop of banners featuring the Bicentennial logo, Cardinal Rigali signed the official Proclamation opening the Bicentennial Year. The Proclamation, which can be found on the Archdiocesan web site along with other Bicentennial resources, will be read by the Cardinal in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007. It will also be read in all 270 parishes within the five-counties of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The Bicentennial logo was created by Mr. Dan Cellucci as part of a contest to find the most fitting representation of the 200-year Eucharistic history and commitment to the future of the Church of Philadelphia (to receive an electronic file of the Bicentennial logo please e-mail the Office for Communications at

Some of the many events which will take place during the year-long celebration include: a Pilgrimage from Philadelphia to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on April 28, 2007. The music for the pilgrimage will be provided by elementary school members of the Bicentennial Chorus, some of whom performed for those gathered at the news conference. The Bicentennial Chorus and Orchestra are made up of several hundred elementary and high school students representing the Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese. In October 2007 the students will perform a concert in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center. Some other special events include a Gala to observe the 175th anniversary of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary this coming May and a youth event in the fall called the "Amazing Race for Grace" which will be a scavenger hunt at Catholic historical sites followed by a Youth Mass at the Seminary. There will be a closing Mass focused on families at the Villanova University Pavilion on April 13, 2008.

Cardinal Rigali also announced that the Archdiocese would recommit itself in service, "As the Archdiocese is among the largest providers of social services in Southeastern Pennsylvania, it is fitting that we use this year to re-dedicate ourselves to the service to all God's people. Doing so highlights the theme of our Bicentennial: Serving the People of God in the Beginning, Now and Always. Every parish, school and institution is asked to join together in some act or program of service during the time between the Feast of Saint John Neumann in January 2008 and the Feast of Saint Katharine Drexel in March of 2008," Cardinal Rigali said.

The Diocese of Philadelphia was established on April 8, 1808 by Pope Pius VII. Prior to this date the wider Philadelphia area had been part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. At the same time that the Diocese of Philadelphia was established, Pope Pius created the Dioceses (now Archdioceses) of Boston, Louisville (formerly Bardstown) and New York. In Philadelphia, Cardinal Rigali announced that a special commemorative book will be published in the fall titled "Our Faith-Filled Heritage." The Cardinal said, "The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is blessed with a rich history. It is the story of immigrants and of the establishment of the Catholic school system. It is the story of Eucharistic devotion and of parishioners who sacrificed to build churches for worship. It is the work of Bishops and priests who brought the word of God to those hungry for spiritual nourishment. It is the work of Religious who performed an enormous work. It is the work of so many dedicated lay faithful."

Donna Farrell
Director of Communications

Back to Top