By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – Cardinal Justin Rigali is inviting the faithful to join him at the Archdiocese’s sixth annual “Bless the Baby Jesus” devotion and Second Sunday of Advent Mass, which he will celebrate at 11 a.m. Dec. 5 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 at the conclusion of Mass.

Donations of diapers and infant formula will be collected for local families in need through Catholic Social Services (CSS).

The Bless the Baby Jesus devotion is sponsored by CSS and the archdiocesan Family Life Office. {{more}}

As Advent is a time when Catholics prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, the Bless the Baby Jesus devotion provides the faithful an opportunity to reinforce the central place of Jesus Christ within the family.

It also gives them the opportunity to grow in faith as the “domestic church,” said Tara Plymouth, coordinator of Family Life Ministry and administrator of Natural Family Planning in the Family Life Office.

“The Second Vatican Council spoke of family as the domestic church, in which the Christian faith is lived and passed on to the young, and where all pray together,” she said.

Plymouth assists Dominic Lombardi, director of the Family Life Office, in coordinating the devotion.

“It’s a wonderful way to celebrate Advent, to prepare for the coming of Jesus by focusing on the beauty of His childbirth, His incarnation,” Plymouth added.

“It’s always cute to see the kids bringing their depictions of Baby Jesus up to the Cardinal, and people in their Christmas attire.”

The donations of diapers and infant formula demonstrate the connection between the swaddling-clothed Baby Jesus and children of the Archdiocese who are in need.

Edward J. Lis, director of Catholic Mission Integration for the Archdiocese’s Catholic Human Services, and Estela Reyes-Bugg, administrator of CSS’ Volunteer and Community Relations, are coordinating the donations of diapers and infant formula collected at the Dec. 5 Mass.

“CSS distributes these donated goods to baby cupboards operating from Family Service Centers in Philadelphia and surrounding counties, as well as the Mother-Baby Residence run by St. Vincent Homes,” Lis said.

“This event reminds us that in the Incarnation God took on human flesh in His Son Jesus Christ, born in humble poverty. Mary and Joseph received gifts from the Wise Men that surely helped them to provide for the needs of the Baby Jesus. These gifts, so essential to the proper care of infants, are truly God’s provision for His precious little ones,” he added.

Advent music will be provided by the Cathedral Choir.

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