“Pope Francis…I love Pope Francis.. I love Jesus.. I love Pope Francis ….” this is what people heard as we marched down the city streets of Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families. We made quite a stir. People pulled out their iphones to record us, and many came up and asked us who we were. After all, it’s not every day that you run into an army of 45 young men dressed as priests singing in the street.
I had the joy of making a pilgrimage to DC and Philadelphia to see Pope Francis. I was able to attend two Papal masses, and to listen to him speak more than a few times. I do not doubt that all of you realize what an impact this Pope is making, not only on the Church, but primarily on the way people see the Church. He is spontaneous, genuine, and he loves to be with the people. He is tearing down the concept that the Church is cold, distant, and condemning- all the while remaining rooted in the Church’s rich and inspired Tradition.
It was a blessing for me to go on this trip with my Legionary brothers. Not only were we all inspired by the Pope, but we were able to reach out to quite a few people as well.
One man approached a group of us on our first day in the city. He was rather upset, because he had been forced to sleep under a bridge the night before due to a complicated situation. He also was somewhat estranged from the church. He had been away for a very long time, put off by the bad example of a priest.
We simply tried to meet him where he was. We saw that he was in a difficult situation, so we tried to console and support him. I watched as the anger that was burning in his eyes gently lifted, soon to be replaced by a little spark of Hope. We told him that we were trying to follow Pope Francis and become priests who are not closed in on themselves but have an open and merciful heart.
He came with us to Mass that day for the first time in 40 years. When I said goodbye, he had a profound look of gratitude and was moved to tears.
That is just one story, but God allowed us to “run into” many people for Him, to show them a little of what Pope Francis calls the joy of the Gospel.
I would like to thank all of you who contributed in some way to our pilgrimage/mission, because without you none of this would have been possible.
Please continue to keep me in your prayers as I continue my discernment.
Be assured of my prayers for you!