Kennedy shines light of joy
on Saint Francis of Assisi
Robert Francis Kennedy Jr. at the National Shrine of Saint of
Saint Francis of Assisi Wednesday, gave a passionate speech about
the life of Saint Francis.
September 7, 2007
When a Kennedy comes to town, everyone takes notice.
And so it was Wednesday with the arrival of Robert Francis Kennedy
Jr., to the city by the Bay named after its patron saint, Saint
Francis of Assisi.
"Bobby" Kennedy, the third of eleven children born
to Ethel Skakel Kennedy and the late Robert F. Kennedy, flew to
San Francisco to promote his latest book, Saint Francis of
Assisi:A Life of Joy, and to be treated to a tour of the construction
of a replica of Saint Francis' porziuncola.
Candidate for Senate District 3 Joe Alioto-Veronese, Angela Alioto
and Bobby Kennedy
take a tour of a replica of Saint Francis' porziuncola under construction
at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi in North Beach.
A chapel within a church, the porziuncola
is being constructed inside the National Shrine of Saint Francis
of Assisi, a church in the heart of San Francisco's North Beach
district. The project
includes conversion of a portion of the street directly in front
of the church into an Italian styled piazza.
Spearheaded by former Board President Angela Alioto and supported
by former San Francisco Archdiocese William Joseph Cardinal Levada,
the chapel's construction is scheduled for completion in October
"The landmark of our city is going to be a symbol of peace,
love, and taking care of the sick and the poor," Alioto remarked
to guests during a private reception for Kennedy. "It's a
very holy place already. I've already asked the Pope to make it
a second day of pardoning like Saint Francis in Assisi."
Bobby Kennedy, Julie Veronese, Shannon Bavaro, Hooman of Alice
and Benefit Magazine publisher Michael Earls.
Thanking Kennedy, Alioto said: "You have no idea how profoundly
important this is to us and our project for Saint Francis. Thanks
Bobby, I will be indebted to you 'til the die I die."
Following the reception, Kennedy attended a special mass at the
National Shrine of Saint Francis where he gave a passionate speech
about the life of Saint Francis before attending a book signing.
"San Francisco," Kennedy said, "welcomes the kind
of diversity that welcomes homeless people and makes greater effort
to take care of the poor probably than any other city in the country,
if not the world. It reflects the core values of Saint Francis."
"My middle name is Francis - the same as my father's -
and Saint Francis is the patron saint of our home."
"He is an ecumenical saint. He's the most loved saint in
the world, next to the Virgin Mary, and he continues to be today.
"I was attracted to him because of my love of nature. It
was one of his core values as well.
"He represents so many issues that are relevant today. Not
just the environment, but also the issue of peace.
"Our primary objective of organized religion should be caring
for the poor and most vulnerable members of our society.
"Saint Francis said the way we find happiness in ourselves
is by committing ourselves to the poor. If Francis were alive
today he'd be working the AIDS wards, among the most vulnerable
of our society.
"Try to live your life with the perfect imitation of Christ's
life. Do what he did, not what someone tells you to do. To me
that's the most inspiring message. It's a message that's relevant
to all of us today - the message of peace, protecting the environment
- and it's a message of take care of the poor and ultimately democracy
"We should not sell ourselves to some ideology or some dogma,
but rather think for ourselves. God gave us a brain so that we
could think for ourselves and not so that we could believe blindly
and ignore science. Search for the truth, that's what we're supposed
to be doing.
"Fundamentalism is a perversion of religion. It's a way
of controlling people and expanding imperial ambitions. Religion
is at its best when it searches for existential truth.
"God gave us such a wonderful world and we should be exploring
it, learning it, understanding it, and not just saying, 'ok, all
I need to do is learn what's in this one little book.'
"Most historians believe he single-handedly brought an end
to the dark ages. He was a quiet revolutionary. He tried to bring
everyone closer to the church and democratize the church.
"And for me, to be able to write this book and teach this
story to children was just a great privilege and a great joy for
me," Kennedy said.
To view more photos of the reception, mass
and book signing, click