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For He's a Jolly Good Fellow - Send Pope Francis a Birthday Greeting

Pope Francis waved as he led the Angelus Dec. 4 from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Even though Pope Francis was planning a "normal" workday for his birthday, well-wishers can help brighten it up with special tweets and emails.

Turning 80 Dec. 17, Pope Francis was going to start the day with Mass together with cardinals living in Rome, according to the Vatican press office. The Vatican made the announcement Dec. 13 -- the anniversary of the pope's ordination to the priesthood in 1969.

"The rest of the day will be 'normal,' loaded with appointments," it said.

Serve, care for each other, pope tells families at closing Mass

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org  | Twitter: @aeternusphoto  Pope Francis closed the 2015 World Meeting of Families with an outdoor Mass celebrated on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

PHILADELPHIA -- Pope Francis urged the hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families to serve and care for each other as freely as God loves the human family.

The pope called upon the faithful to embrace signs that the Holy Spirit can work through everyone. He referred to the readings in the multilingual Mass -- from the Book of Numbers and the Gospel of Mark -- in which members of the faith community questioned the work of those not part of their group and for prophesying in the name of God.

Let freedom ring!

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org | Twitter @aeternusphoto Pope Francis walks from Independence Hall to deliver an address in Philadelphia Sept. 26

PHILADELPHIA -- Not far from where the Liberty Bell is on display, Pope Francis urged the people of the United States to continue to "proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," as the bell's inscription says.

Meeting Sept. 26 with members of the Hispanic community and immigrants at Independence National Historical Park, the pope said when governments respect human rights and freedoms, especially the right to religious liberty, they benefit from their citizens' respect and care for others.

Pope at 9/11 Memorial: Violence is never impersonal, always brings tears

Pope Francis gave a reflection as he joined representatives of religious communities in Foundation Hall at the ground zero 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York Sept. 25

NEW YORK -- Honoring both the pain and the strength of the families of those who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and drawing on the pools of water that are part of the site's memorial, Pope Francis spoke about tears and quenching the world's longing for peace.

"The water we see flowing toward that empty pit remind us of all those lives" lost in 2001, he said. "The flowing water is also a symbol of our tears. Tears at so much devastation and ruin, past and present."

It's official -- Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia

The Philadelphia skyline is seen in a 2012 file photo. Pope Francis confirmed he will visit Philadelphia in September for the World Meeting of Families.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis said he would attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, making it the first confirmed stop on what is expected to be a more extensive papal visit to North America.
The pope made the announcement Nov. 17 in a speech opening an interreligious conference on traditional marriage.
"I would like to confirm that, God willing, in September 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families," the pope said.

Tornadoes exact deadly toll; region needs 'a lot of prayers right now'

Two girls stand in rubble after a tornado struck Moore, Okla., May 20. The mile-wide tornado touched down near Oklahoma City, killing dozens, including many children, destroying homes, businesses and a pair of elementary schools in the suburb of  Moore.

OKLAHOMA CITY —  Even after the initial death toll was cut by more than half, the human and material devastation of a string of tornadoes that buffeted areas of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City May 19-20 was incalculable.

"Our first concern is for the victims who have lost their lives or loved ones and suffered injury or loss of property," said a May 21 statement by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City.

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