New cardinal gets warm welcome in Manchester
With those words, the Rev. Richard Dion welcomed Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, the newly elevated cardinal of Quebec, back to his home parish of St. Anthony of Padua Saturday afternoon.
The night before, the cardinal's mother had prepared his favorite salmon dish for about 35 members of the family.
The cardinal celebrated Mass alongside Bishop Peter Libasci, retired Bishop John McCormack and some priests from the diocese. Libasci told Lacroix his visit is "an occasion of great joy and a blessing to us all."
And the celebration continues this morning, with Cardinal Lacroix celebrating Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral at 10:30 a.m.
Early in his religious vocation, Lacroix spent time in Colombia as a missionary. He said he still considers himself a missionary because much of his time is spent visiting families and parishes in small towns around Quebec.
Lacroix called Pope Francis "a breath of fresh air."
And the church needs a Francis at this time, he said.
"And he's putting the whole church in movement in a new way. ... Everybody has a responsibility in this big family, and he's helping us to discover more what it is."
The young Lacroix attended St. Anthony grammar school and junior high and went on to Trinity High School and then Saint Anselm College. Ask about Trinity and he at once declares, "I am a Pioneer."
Toomey said Lacroix's elevation is a source of pride for Trinity students. "To say a cardinal came from your school isn't something a lot of people can say," he said.
Lacroix has been a frequent visitor to St. Anthony Church when he comes home to see his parents, and he sometimes celebrates Mass in French, parishioners said.
But this visit was "historic," said usher Bill Cote. "This is a big event here."
Now that Lacroix is a cardinal, Arnts wonders whether Lacroix could someday become Pope. "He's very real, down to earth," he said. "Very genuine.
Arnts sees a resurgence in the church and senses that both Pope Francis and Cardinal Lacroix are part of that new spirit. "The good Lord has his ways, and he's got his reasons he allows things to happen," he said.
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