By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 300 priests from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia gathered on Thursday to renew their vows during a special mass in the Cathedral Basilica.

They came from parishes across the archdiocese, gathering as a brotherhood to pledge their loyalty to the church, the people of God, and their local shepherd, Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Chaput put the Holy Thursday events into context.

“Our celebration today is not just a celebration of priests, it’s a celebration of the family of the church,” he said.

The archbishop also called on the faithful in the cathedral to help fortify the clergy in their mission.

“So please, thank God with me for the gift of priests in our church’s life and do all your can to love and to support them,” Chaput said.

Meanwhile, across the street, a small group pressing for ordination of women as priests conducted a demonstration.

Jim Clay, of the Northeast, says they had high hopes Pope Francis would look at the issue, but…

“He came out about, I don’t know, six weeks ago and said there’ll be no women priests just to shut the door on that,” Clay said.

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