Pope Francis highlights the wisdom of the elderly in first public Mass in Canada

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 Pope Francis passed among some 65,000 people in the popemobile over the sounds of cheers and drums before celebrating his first Mass in Canada in the city of Edmonton. 

Although the Pope arrived in Canada on a Sunday, he chose to celebrate his first public Mass only after meeting with Indigenous peoples on their lands to address the Church's role in supporting the residential school system.

The Pope then appeared in vestments adorned with traditional Indigenous decorations to preside over Mass for the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus. It is an occasion highly revered by Indigenous Christians for whom each community's elders are widely respected. 

In his homily, the Pope urged people of all backgrounds to remember their roots in order to know their own identity.

In order to accept who we really are, and how precious we are, we need to accept as part of ourselves the men and women from whom we are descended.
Yet cherishing their memory also means constantly returning to that school where we first learned to love. It means asking ourselves, when faced with daily choices, what the wisest of the elders we have known would do in our place, what advice our grandparents and great-grandparents would have given us.

He then told younger people to work towards a better future for the generations that will follow them, and to consider how they will want to be remembered. 

Often we measure our lives on the basis of our income, our type of career, our degree of success and how others perceive us. Yet these are not life-giving criteria. The real question is: am I giving life? Am I ushering into history a new and renewed love?

After the Mass, the Archbishop of Edmonton thanked the Pope for his visit and reiterated the commitment of the bishops of Canada to walking with Indigenous communities toward reconciliation. 

The Pope then gave a chalice to the Archbishop, who served as the General Coordinator for the papal visit which was organized in only four months, one of the fastest planned papal trips in recent history. Pope Francis then offered a final blessing in English before proceeding behind the altar.


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