Only one senior was blessed enough to make the pilgrimage to see Pope Francis in person last week, but 73 seniors were able to make a short pilgrimage of their own to Creighton University’s campus to watch the Papal Address to Congress on the big screen and have reflection and discussion with more than 400 students from local Catholic high schools.
Maddie Kirchofer has family in the East. So when her aunt heard that The Holy Father was making this historic trip to the United States, she invited Maddie to make the journey. They had tickets to the Canonization Mass of Blessed Junipero Serra and to some of the events in Philadelphia as well as Washington, D.C.
Watch this space for more of Maddie’s story…coming soon…
REFLECTION FROM NETWORK SPORTS EDITOR, SENIOR LINDSAY MUSE
When I first heard that the Pope was not only coming to America, but speaking to Congress, I was shocked and surprised. It was difficult to wrap my head around the fact that the Pope had a message of faith, hope, and love that was specifically tailored toward the people of the United States.
My shock and surprise began to turn into anticipation as the the arrival of the Pope into Washington drew near. When I heard about the opportunity to go to Creighton and watch the Papal address with other seniors from the metro area, I immediately jumped at the chance.
I wanted the opportunity to witness a historic moment surrounded by people my own age who anticipated the Pope’s arrival as much as I did. I wanted to hear the Pope’s message of the solidarity and the common good through use of American history and the specific conflicting issues present in today’s society, with my peers.
On September 24, 2015, as I loaded a bus surrounded by more than 60 classmates and teachers, I was busy anticipating what the Pope had to say. I had been praying for his arrival into the States and I was wondering about his message to Congress and what would result. I wondered about the number of people who would care about what he would have to say. I was curious to know if he would present himself in English or his native language, Spanish. I wanted to see how Congress would respond to his call and challenge of hope and change to the world.
Upon our arrival at Creighton, my classmates and I were welcomed and with open and arms and provided with breakfast. We were then ushered into the auditorium and joined by about 400 other students. All of us were warmly welcomed by the Creighton administration and we were led in active and dynamic discussions before and after the Pope appeared on the screen and gave his papal address to Congress. I was pleasantly surprised that the Pope chose to speak to Congress in English. It was interesting to listen not only to accent, but to hear the conviction of beliefs and message of hope that he spoke.
I learned quite a bit about the Pope from his speech. I learned that he is a man speaks with conviction about his beliefs, and he does not shy away from what he thinks the state of the world is in. He a good shepherd, one who does not talk down to his people, but one who talks at the level of his people. He cares not just about the masses, but about the face and the struggles of each individual. He works to spread the message of hope and love and to raise awareness about the level poverty, and those in the most hopeless conditions. He cares about the dignity of the human person and about people who work together to honestly provide daily bread.
In his address, he specifically highlighted four great Americans who each made a difference in their lives to help aid the country. He mentioned that Abraham Lincoln catered to liberty; Martin Luther King Jr. focused on equality; Dorothy Day worked for social justice; and Thomas Merton modeled contemplative prayer. Not only did he tailor his message to Americans using historical American examples, he also increased global awareness for the elderly, immigration, the death penalty, climate, control, and the importance of family. He wanted to remind Congress that they have a duty not just the legislation and care of Americans, but to those of the world.
The Pope’s message gave me, my peers, and the world a lot to think about and process. I was grateful that the Creighton administration gave us time to sit down and reflect upon what we had heard before dividing us into small groups. The conversations in the small groups were very interesting and informative. I learned what had surprised some of my peers and what they thought about what the Pope had to say. Some of them were just as surprised as I was that the Pope spoke in English, that immigration was such a huge deal, and that the family is more threatened than previously thought. There was definitely some discussion about how down to earth and people-friendly the Pope seems. It was fun to talk about possible immigration policies, and what young people can do to make people more aware of the faith in general.
I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to go to Creighton to watch the Pope address not only Congress, but also the American people. It was a historical moment, and I am glad that I was able to present and participate in it.
What I really enjoyed about the conference was that I felt welcomed among my peers and that I had the ability to share with them what I had thought and felt when the Pope spoke. I learned a lot, not only about hope and love but also about the importance of community. I learned that the Pope is a down to earth man who does his best to emulate Christ in all aspects of his life and his interactions with the world. It was incredible to witness his message of faith, hope, and love right before my eyes.