This afternoon Pope Francis will arrive in the USA!
Even though I can’t go the East Coast to greet him, I am very excited!
During these first few weeks of school I have been doing different things with my students to get us all pumped up for his visit to our country.
Here are some of the things we have been doing to prepare for his visit:
- We have been praying with this prayer from the World Meeting of Families. The World Meeting of Families began today in Philadelphia and Pope Francis will be joining the conference at the end, this weekend.
- We are celebrating what I call “Pope Francis Fridays.” On Fridays we pause and do something special related to Pope Francis such as contemplate one of his statements or actions, or watch news stories related to him. For example, last week I asked my students to contemplate Pope Francis’ quote that “We all have the duty to do good,” and then journal about what good they had done that day.
- We have been praying for him, for his travels, safety and health. We have especially been praying that we really take to heart the messages he has for us. We also have been praying for all the people who are doing the work of hosting and coordinating all the details of his visit.
- I have a calendar in my classroom that is clearly labeled with the time when Pope Francis will be in the USA and we have been counting down the days until his arrival.
- We have discussed what we know and appreciate about Pope Francis. For one of the Pope Francis Fridays we watched the coverage on his Virtual Audience to the USA and I heard the students comment about how much he inspires them.
- This Thursday we are having a Pope Francis Party in my classroom. We’ll have treats, play games and watch the Pope make his address to U.S. Congress. Meanwhile, my community will be hosting a similar Watch Party for the public in St. Rose Convent.
It is an exciting time to be a Catholic in the United States of America. It is also an exciting time to be a religious sister and have a Pope that is a Jesuit and is informed by the beauty and challenges of community life. I really appreciated his recent comments to the crowd of priests, religious and seminarians. During this Year of Consecrated Life, and just a few months past when I made my final vows as a Franciscan Sister, Pope Francis’ reflections on living this unique vocation are very meaningful to me.
I know many people who going to the Washington DC, New York and Philadelphia to greet Pope Francis and participate in the gatherings. Apparently all the novices in the country were invited to the Mass of Canonization of Juniper Serra tomorrow (a fact that made me wish I would have delayed my vocation and were now a novice!). Fortunately, the blessing of modern technology helps me follow my friends who are attending online and participate from afar.
There is a lot of buzz and anticipation about what Pope Francis will say or do when he is in the USA. He is not a predictable pope. He proclaims the Gospel and acknowledges how challenging and messy it is to build the reign of God.
No matter what message of Truth Pope Francis may proclaim and inspire us with by his witness, may each of us follow his example. May we boldly love our neighbors and courageously enter into the broken and hurting parts of creation as we walk closely with Jesus. May we be real instruments of peace, just like Pope Francis! Amen!