By Christie L. Chicoine

CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – Cardinal Justin Rigali will preside at the Archdiocese’s fourth annual “Bless the Baby Jesus Advent Prayer Service” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Families across the Archdiocese are invited to bring their images and statues of the Baby Jesus, including the statue that graces their Nativity crèche, for the Cardinal to bless.

Donations of new clothing for infants, infant formula and monetary contributions will be collected for local families in need through Catholic Social Services (CSS).

The service is sponsored by the archdiocesan Family Life Office and CSS.

As Advent is a time when Catholics prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, “Bless the Baby Jesus is an opportunity to reinforce the central place of Jesus Christ within the family,” said Tara Plymouth, coordinator of family life ministry and administrator of Natural Family Planning at the Family Life Office.

“This is also an opportunity for people to assist the less fortunate during this holiday season. Part of the true meaning of Christmas is sharing with others, and it is important to help our brothers and sisters in need,” she said.

The Bless the Baby Jesus Advent Prayer Service is also significant in that “it is an excellent opportunity for inspaniduals and families to grow in faith as the ‘domestic Church,'” Plymouth said. “The Second Vatican Council spoke of the family as the ‘domestic Church,’ in which the Christian faith is lived and passed on to the young, and where all pray together,” she added.

Pre-Christmas music will be provided by the adult and youth choirs of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Media.

For more information, call the Family Life Office at (215) 587-3516 or e-mail

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or