On Pilgrimage: Reflections on Seeing Pope Francis

Pope Hopeby S. Karen Mohan, VHM

Until going to Philadelphia in late September,*  I had only seen one other Pope, and that was Pope (now Saint) John XXIII. I was 14 years old, with my Mom, my Aunt Ann and my Aunt Paddy on a special trip to Rome! We were all so excited! This took place before Pope John had “opened the window” of the Catholic Church to the modern world by convening the Second Vatican Council. The Holy Spirit was at work then and now, and we were travelling east to be a part of the energy and love surrounding Pope Francis’ presence.

 “[I]n the people, the care, the palpable faith “in the air”, I saw the power of the Spirit through this man of God and through the thousands of people standing in line with me.” — S. Karen

Driving straight through from Minneapolis to Philadelphia is a feat in itself– a 20 hour one! Travelling with three wonderful women and having the support of community, family, friends and fellow pilgrims – -all this added to our joy!   Our brother Oblates of St. Francis de Sales were offering us hospitality and we had our walking shoes and “regulation size” back packs ready.

“Life means getting our feet dirty from the dust-filled roads of life and history. All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed. All of us are being sought out by the Teacher who wants to help us resume our journey …   May this knowledge inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another, and see the best for others.“  — Pope Francis

When I returned, people kept asking me, “Did you see Pope Francis?”   Well, I did see the Pope-mobile go by, and he must have been waving at me! However, in the people, the care, the palpable faith “in the air”, I saw the power of the Spirit through this man of God and through the thousands of people standing in line with me.

SKaren Mohan 1966 crop

S. Karen Mohan, circa, 1971


This unique moment in the life of the Church and of the world is converging with my own personal history.
When I made my first vows as a Visitation Sister at the St. Louis Monastery on June 6, 1966, the Church’s windows were being opened, the II Vatican Council was in session, and a young Jesuit in Argentina was living his commitment, preparing (though he did not know it) for this moment in history.

As Pope Francis said in Philadelphia to the Inmates of the Curran-Fromhold Prison, “Life means getting our feet dirty from the dust-filled roads of life and history. All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed. All of us are being sought out by the Teacher who wants to help us resume our journey …   May this knowledge inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another, and see the best for others.“

May we do just that as we live our commitments, one day at a time.

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*Click to see photos from S. Karen’s trip to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis

The Francis Effect: Guiding Us to Bright Years Ahead!

Pope Francis smiles during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

by Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion, Guest blogger

The Francis Effect presents Pope Francis as an inspiring child of God, ready to guide us from the dark years behind us to bright years ahead.”

As a relatively young student with a Catholic school education, I can tell you about the state of the Church today and about the state of the Church 500 years ago, but I would be hard-pressed to tell you about its state 10 years ago. We didn’t study Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI in our history books, so the little I knew came from the scandals reported in secular newspapers. I knew very little about the context in which Pope Francis first came to lead our world.

The Francis Effect, shown in our “Movies with Jane” series at St. Jane House, was an enlightening experience about just how profoundly Pope Francis is transforming the papacy. I got to learn about Pope Benedict XVI, about why he retired, and about how the pope no one expected to be elected came out of the conclave to the people in St. Peter’s Square and, kicking off his radical departure from tradition, bowed to them for their blessing on him. I learned how he communicated with the media and with the world far beyond what his predecessors had, not only in quantity but also in quality: he said things that no one had said before. Now I understand what he is doing and why it is so shocking.

Others who watching the movie with me—Sister Karen, Sister Mary Margaret, Brian Mogren, and Aimiee Fritsch—were much more deeply acquainted with Pope Francis than I was, and from them I heard murmurs of appreciation and tears. To them, the documentary was a testimony to a trusted shepherd.

Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion

Anna Dourgarian, Vis Companion

The Francis Effect presents Pope Francis as an inspiring child of God, ready to guide us from the dark years behind us to bright years ahead.

 

Anna is a Visitation Companion and is currently studying Civil Engineering at the University of Minnesota.