Last week, Pope Francis visited Cuba and the United States for the first time. The trip was packed with many public appearances, private meetings with heads of state, and opportunities for the pope to interact with those who are in most need of God’s mercy. Pope Francis spoke to Cuba and America on many subjects, primarily focusing on the family for a majority of his pilgrimage, ending with the World Meeting for Families.
Many Youth Apostles partook in opportunities to see the Holy Father. Eduardo Azcarate, along with his wife and daughter, and Fr. Ramon Dominguez joined a group who went to Cuba to greet Pope Francis. Some brothers traveled early in the morning to line the streets for the Papal parade on the National Mall. During the parade, Pope Francis kissed Kolbe Francis Power, son of Full Member Mike and Directress of Women Youth Apostles Kelly Power. Check out the video below! A few brothers received tickets to attend the Canonization Mass for Saint Junipero Serra, including 4 of our priests who concelebrated the Mass. Youth Apostles was given 30 tickets from a couple generous donors to attend Pope Francis’ address to Congress on the West Lawn.
The culmination of Pope Francis’ pilgrimage was this past weekend in Philadelphia. Saturday night was the Festival of Families with 6 families invited to tell the Holy Father their story and throughout the night, many world class celebrities performed and spoke to a crowd of thousands. Sunday was the closing Mass in which over a million attended. Many of our brothers attended these two events along with teens from our ministries. Virginia Tech was able to bring 150 students and the Diocese of Arlington managed to bring a group of 700 to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis.
Personally, I had an amazing experience. It was my first time see a pope in person and although I didn’t receive a personal encounter, I was deeply moved by the number of people gathered, the joy of all around me, the hearts of the young people I went with, and how the Lord spoke to me personally about the peace He has to offer. One particularly touching story was how we waited for over 4 hours to attend the Mass, forgoing lunch and knowing that we would not have dinner for many hours. We packed many snacks anticipating this and some of our teens decided to give their snacks to the homeless they encountered. This was truly answering Pope Francis’ call to go to the peripheries and touch the suffering flesh of Christ. I was being taught this by the youth I am called to serve.
Below are links to some of the stories that came from this incredible time for our nation.
Link to story about Kolbe Francis receiving a kiss and blessing from Pope Francis: http://wjla.com/features/pope-in-america/baby-boy-kissed-by-pope-francis-moves-crowd-to-tears
Link to Kevin Bohli, Director of the Office of Youth Ministry, blogging about Arlington’s Papal Pilgrimage to Philadelphia: https://encourageandteach.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/700-youth-and-adults-see-popeinphilly-return-contemplating-joy/
Link to all of the speeches and homilies Pope Francis gave during his Papal visit: http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/francis/papal-visit-2015/2015-papal-visit-speeches-homilies.cfm