It was probably the most exhilarating moment of my young life. As he approached in his Popemobile, the crowd pressed in tightly, phones and cameras in the air, children on parents’ shoulders. He drove past, his eyes collectively greeting us, his hand raised to bless us; his gentle, humble spirit penetrated our hearts as we simultaneously held our breath and yelled “Papa!” as if greeting our dear grandfather for the first time.
It all happened so fast. But I tell you, the chaos of the trip to see him was absolutely worth that one moment.
This is the beautiful thing about our dear Pope Francis: This man truly embodies his vocation as the Vicar of Christ. And seeing this man in person was in fact seeing the closest expression of Jesus Christ on earth.
His presence in our country changed us. Whether you’re Catholic or not, you heard about Pope Francis’s historic visit to the U.S.
No matter where people stand on certain controversial issues in our country at the moment, most people found his presence in our country to be hopeful and healing.
He welcomes back those who have been hurt and lost in the Church. And he challenges those of us within the Church to step away from narrow-minded thinking and calls us out of our comfort zone to reach those who have been lost.
He is truly the face of Jesus, who challenged the narrow-minded Pharisees and met with the sinners. During his visit, Pope Francis met with victims of the sex abuse scandal; he met the homeless; he addressed prisoners in Philadelphia and shook the hand of every single one; he blessed the elderly and handicapped nearly every time he passed them.
This Pope is exactly what this world needs. And those of us who followed his visit were moved. My heart was moved, and just with his presence, I felt challenged to be a better person, more willing to reach outside myself to encounter others. I feel hopeful about the future of the Church and encouraged in how my country reacted to his visit.
In this year’s whirlwind of bad news for the United States, Pope Francis reminded us that there is always hope.
While seeing him in person was so worth it, I did, however, miss out on quite a bit of his other speeches and footage.
So if you want a recap, need to catch up on his speeches like me, or just want to go back and re-read his genius, here is everything he said on his U.S. visit: