Throughout much of last week, Catholics from across the country flocked to Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia to welcome the Holy Father to our beloved nation. While many were fortunate enough to secure a ticket to attend and participate in the many liturgies celebrated by Pope Francis, others were content with simply getting a glimpse of the pope as he drove by in his modest Fiat 500 or Jeep Popemobile. For many, the Holy Father’s first-ever visit to the United States allowed them to encounter the presence of the Holy Spirit and filled them with a tremendous sense of joy and peace.
Many of the seminarians from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach were privileged to make the journey to our nation’s capital for the Papal Visit. The highlight of the trip was Mass in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where Pope Francis canonized Junípero Serra. Prior to the celebration of the Eucharist, the Holy Father entered the basilica and greeted the many seminarians and religious brothers and sisters who were patiently awaiting his arrival.
When he walked through the front doors, the usually tranquil worship space erupted into a thunderous roar of excitement. As Pope Francis approached our position towards the front of the basilica, the seminarians from St. Vincent de Paul, myself included, jumped up onto the pews to get a glimpse of our chief shepherd. The successor of Peter was in our midst, something none of us will ever forget.
Throughout his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires and now as Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis has authentically lived the Gospel. By his words and actions during his time in the United States, he has invited us to do the same. Each of us are called to radically live out the Gospel message and to be authentic witnesses to the love and compassion of Christ in the world. Personally, the Holy Father challenges me tremendously to look at my own life and ask the important questions. Do I live my life in such a way that directs others to Christ? When I encounter strangers on the street, does my interaction with them lead them to an experience of the loving presence of God in their lives? Do I bring the joy of the Gospel to all those I meet during the day?
Throughout the next several weeks, let us pray that the Holy Father’s visit to the United States continue to have a lasting impact on our spiritual lives. May his words and example continue to stir within our hearts a desire to grow closer to the Lord.