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That Time I Saw Pope Francis...

    Since I was born in the late 90's I didn't really know of Pope John Paul 2 growing up. Technically I was alive for his Papacy, however, when he died I would have been 6 or 7 and at that point I didn't really know who the Pope was. However, as I  grew up I  knew of then Pope Benedict the 16th but never really paid close attention to his papacy.  Of course, now I know of Pope Francis and he is the first pope that I have fully followed the papacy of.

    When he first got elected in 2013, four years ago today, I remember being in a computer class at my small Catholic High school, not doing my work, but constantly refreshing the news feeds to see if a cardinal had been elected pope. Surely enough as I sat through that class  on March 13th 2013, Pope Francis was elected. I remember, in the excitement of the news, I  had shouted out, " Habemus Papam" in the middle of  class, interrupting the teacher. Everyone looked at me in confusion, to which I said, " WE HAVE A POPE." Immediately after me explaining that, the announcements turned on and the school principal announced it as well.

I remember making myself a promise on that day, that " I am going to see this pope in person." Of course as I made that promise it was still very hypothetical and I didn't know the great pope, Francis would be. As the three years continued I constantly reminded myself that I have to see Francis. As his papacy continued and unfolded, I was even more eager to see him.

It was defiantly a blessing how I was able to go to World Youth Day. Someone had graciously paid for me to go, however, when I called the next day to sign up, I was turned down because the group had reached its max number of people. Becoming disappointed I lost hope of being able to see Francis, especially knowing that he has made remarks that his papacy would only last a couple of years. Within an hour after hanging up we received a call from them saying that someone had just dropped out and that a spot is open if I was still interested. Immediately I signed up. It was a blessing and an opportunity that I was not going to turn down.

Police rolled out before the Pope Passed By
I had then gone to Poland for two and a half weeks at the end July 2016.  We spent the first week with the community of Chemin Neuf, in the city of Łódź. It was a very intresting time, filled with a lot of people involved with the Charismatic renewal ( personally I am not one of them.) However, after those interesting days we then made our way to Krakow, where the main World Youth Day events took place. Staying in a hotel and walking to all the main places we had a relatively great place to stay.

Then on Thursday July 28th, my dream came true, I saw pope Francis with my two own eye.

We had made our way to Blonia park, where we had been two days prior for the opening ceremony. All the pilgrims had gathered there again for the welcoming of Pope Francis to the WYD celebrations. When my group found their spot in the middle of C3, a friend, a priest and myself separated from our group and we went to the edge gate where we heard Francis would drive by. We waited for just under two hours until finally Francis came around the corner in his Popemobile. He had stopped almost directly in front of me to kiss a baby. I was astonished. Here, in this moment, the Holy Father was in front of me. His face was shinning holiness like no one else I have ever seen before. In the awe-inspiring moment, He gave a blessing in my direction, and it was probably the best moment in my life.

Then the following day, I was with two other people from my group, (we had seperated from the group so as to explore on our own, and thankfully so!) We were travelling down a road when suddenly we were told to get off the road and make way. The polive began to march down the street and putting up barriers. Then again Pope Francis, with the Cardinal of Krakow came in a simple car down the street and again I was blessed with the Pope as he was making the cross with his hands as he passed the people.

These two incredible moments, have stayed with me since they happened and has increased my spirituality. I will forever hold these memories with me, because I was able to see my very first pontiff, who has done so much good for the Catholic Church. From the moment he was elected and bowed down asking for our prayers and blessing, I think the world knew he was different, He was going to be a good pope.

Happy Anniversary Pope Francis!


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