This article was originally published in Issue 3, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (October 8, 2015). Click here to view the entire issue.
With the Pope Back in Rome, University Community Still Called to Action, Officials Say
Through a bus sponsored by the Student Engagement office, nine students traveled to Philadelphia Sept. 27 for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families, celebrated by Pope Francis on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The Mass signaled the end of Francis’s six-day U.S. visit, which also included stops in Washington and New York. It shouldn’t mean, however, the end of attempting to live out his message, students and school officials said.
“If we just revel in the fact that he was here and there was a lot of excitement — if we treat Pope Francis simply as a celebrity — then his visit was in vain,” said University Chaplain Rev. Timothy McIntire, OSFS. “But if we look at the man, listen to his words and actually start to try to live more joyfully, try to live by recognizing the faces of others around us on this campus… that’s going to be the fruit of Pope Francis’ visit.”
Students took in the Mass via jumbotrons placed throughout the city and were granted access into the ticketed area of the Parkway, according to those who went. Jess Curry, a senior nursing major, who was convinced to go by family members, said the trip was a reminder for her faith.
“I talked to people from all over the country,” she said. “What I’ll take away is how important family is, and how important our Catholic family is — how important it is to be in communion with people and celebrate the Eucharist.”
Throughout his appearances at both political and religious venues, the Pope called Catholics both to action and to contemplation. While celebrating Mass on Sept. 26 at Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, he stressed the discernment of the individual’s vocational mission, as he told stories about Katharine Drexel, the first U.S.-born saint, and her encounter with Pope Leo XIII. In Washington, speaking to a joint meeting of Congress, which was attended by University President Rev. Bernard O’Connor, OSFS, the Pontiff urged lawmakers to come together on issues of climate and solidarity with the poor.
“[Pope Francis] knows firsthand that many people in the industrialized nations have lost this ability to find joy in the simple embrace of another person,” O’Connor wrote in an editorial submitted to The Morning Call. “In many ways the Pope’s message was directed to the affluent and successful people of Europe and America. It is unfortunate, but affluence and joy are seldom found together. In some very mysterious way, possessions and material success tend to deflect the human heart from these simple pleasures of joy that the Pope finds so liberating.”
Attendance at Masses and inquiries into religious life in the Northeast U.S. have seen jumps over the last week as a result of the Papal visit, according to The New York Times. The DeSales Office of Campus Ministry said they are hoping for the same effect in terms of campus Masses and religiously oriented events like “Salesian Spirits.”
“I think if we’re able to take what the Pope said and we’re inspired by that, that message doesn’t end now that he’s back in Rome. That message permeates throughout our neighborhoods, our country, our hearts,” Maggie Riggins, director of Campus Ministry, said. “If people are inspired, if they haven’t been going to church, if they haven’t been talking to anyone about faith or if they haven’t really engaged the ‘God’ question in a long time, they know as part of this family that campus ministry is going to love them no matter what, no matter where they are.”