Reflections on the Papal Visit from Bishop Paul R. Sanchez

U.S. Bishops at St. Matthew's Cathedral, Washington DC, September 23, 2015
Bishops listen to Pope Francis speak during midday prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, September 23, 2015. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

The recent visit of Pope Francis to our shores brought blessings to so many people. Personally I was privileged to experience his presence at two events in Washington, DC (the Pope’s talk to the Bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral and the Canonization Mass at the Basilica) and two others here in New York City (Vespers at St. Patrick’s and the Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden).

Each event was memorable in its own right, but the Pope’s Mass at Madison Square Garden was a special moment. When the concelebrating Bishops at the Mass entered in procession ahead of the Holy Father, we had the distinct experience of hearing 20,000 people singing the entrance hymn, “All creatures of Our God and King, lift up your voices, let us sing.” People throughout the stadium were flashing their cell phone cameras and rejoicing in the opportunity to see Pope Francis in procession.

For me, it was a testimony of faith. The enthusiasm and delight of the crowd as they cheered the Holy Father and prayed with him will be an unforgettable memory. Being swept up in the euphoria of each of the events did not help me to absorb some of the words of the Holy Father, so I look forward to reading the texts of his homilies and talks, as they are available to all of us.

Pope Francis’ special charisma, his love for the poor and for children, his humility and accessibility all contribute to the gift of himself which he has shared with us. May his life and testimony of faith continue to nourish our own faith and the faith of many others.

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Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden, September 25, 2015

A friend once said to me: there is good reason why the Church has us pray for the Holy Father by name at every Mass. Pope Francis continually echoes that same petition (“Pray for me”) so often. May God watch over Pope Francis! May he continue to bring the peace and mercy of God to many more people!