By Jim Wogan
Cardinal Justin Rigali will represent Pope Francis as his special envoy at a celebration marking the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city of St. Louis.
“It is a great honor to be the personal representative of Pope Francis,” Cardinal Rigali said. It brings me back to the archdiocese where I served for 9 ½ years.”
His Eminence was Archbishop of St. Louis from 1994-2003.
“It’s a link to my past. During those years I was ably assisted by (then) Father and (then) Monsignor (Richard F.) Stika, so now to return to St. Louis as a special envoy to the Holy Father is a great honor.”
Cardinal Rigali said Bishop Stika plans to be in St. Louis for the celebration.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis is planning several Masses in conjunction with the city’s birthday celebration. As Pope Francis’ special envoy to the solemn Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Rigali will celebrate Mass at the new cathedral on Aug 24.
“St. Louis has special meaning to the Catholic Church in the United States,” the Cardinal said. “It was actually the second established diocese in our country. It has been so much a part of our Church as an archdiocese for all these years.”
The Cardinal pointed out that the Archdiocese of St. Louis is often referred to as the “Rome of the West” for its significant impact on the founding of Catholicism in the U.S.
Pope John Paul II visited St. Louis in 1999. Cardinal Rigali served in the Vatican for Pope John Paul II for several years.
This is the second time Cardinal Rigali has served as the personal representative of a pope. In 2001, His Eminence was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as his envoy at the 200th anniversary celebration of the birth of St. John Neumann in the Czech Republic.