#PopeinDC or My Day with Pope Francis

Dispatch Times

Look at that face! That smile! Do you see a twinkle in his eyes? I do!

What a day in DC! Pope Francis arrived for his first visit to the US! As he mentioned, it was also Yom Kippur. So I decided to spend my fast with the Pope. Let me tell you, it was very emotional watching this man and his followers and fans including me.

Despite all the traffic issues – he brought and shared a sense of hope to everyone with him live, those of us watching on TV and to the city of DC. Just seeing his smile and sparkling eyes and those in the crowds – through the TV – I felt good, and safe, and hopeful.

I knew he was the “People’s Pope” but I had not seen him in action. Because of security (which I hear he disagreed) the only people he met personally were a group of Catholic school students who greeted him as he left the Vatican Embassy. He spent 20 minutes shaking hands and taking selfies – his smile, was well, beneficent. You could tell he was enjoying himself.

Pete Souza (I think)
Photo by Pete Souza (I think).

I was moved to tears watching Pope Francis greeting President and Mrs. Obama. He was talking to our President! The gospel singers from Saint Augustine Catholic Church – maybe a dozen singers – brought me to tears with their acapella rendition of Total Praise. The Pope was smiling. When the Pope ended his comments at the White House with “God Bless America” – I had goosebumps cause you know HE means it! (Mrs. Biden had THE best dress but I digress.) Yes from the White House lawn he talked about immigrants in America, refugees overseas, peace, our environment – but it is his presence (unlike any other Pope or religious leader I have watched) that gets to me. I believe he believes, literally walks the talk and asks us to be our better selves. There is something about the leader of the free world and the Pontiff smiling (dare I say laughing) together. For me = hope.

I was moved to tears when during the Pontiff’s parade around the Ellipse when security brought children to him to bless. It was so touching. They say the barricades were there to keep him from walking to the crowds! You have probably already read about Sophie Cruz. She was originally filmed being led back to her Mother by a policeman when another security member picked her up and brought her to Pope Francis…from Lawrence Downes New York Times blog,

Pool photo by Alex Brandon
Pool photo by Alex Brandon

When Pope Francis stopped the motorcade to embrace Sophie, who was dressed in traditional costume, it was a touching moment of unrehearsed graciousness. Sophie’s letter, and earlier videos, and TV interviews, suggest that she is a very self-possessed child, and that her message, in Spanish, was exquisitely well-rehearsed, down to the list of vegetables — oranges, onions, melons — that immigrant farmworkers like her father pick to keep this country fed.

Roger Burks filmed his own video from the parade route on 17th Street NW! Oh my, seeing the Pope’s face looking at the crowd was something special indeed! And an angle missed by all the media. Thanks Roger!

Pope Francis offered words of advice, wisdom and encouragement at the Bishop’s midday prayer. He was urged his brothers to “be with the people” – well he’s a great example. I heard something about he looks at the shoes of his priests, Bishops and Cardinals to see if they are scuffed from working in their communities. Wow….

After my fast, listening and watching the Pope, I feel energized and yes hopeful for a great year for us all. Thanks to my viewing companion Lilly. She lives in my building and enjoyed watching the Pontiff together.

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