by Clare O’Keefe

via MSMC

Students and faculty of Mount Saint Mary College (MSMC) made their own pilgrimage to New York City to be in the presence of Pope Francis on Friday, September 25th.

Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, began his papacy on March 13th, 2013. He is the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis, who is the first pope from the Americas, is from Argentina.

The Pope had many stops during his trip to the United States. He started in Washington D.C., where he greeted President Obama and the United State Congress. Then, he had an evening prayer service at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. His next stop was at the United Nations, where he addressed the general assembly, and was followed by a religious service at the 9/11 memorial. Finally, he held mass in Madison Square Garden. This was his last stop in New York City before he ended his trip in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Pope Francis gave mass to 20,000 people in Madison Square Garden. These people came from all different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. One thing uniting everyone was the admiration and respect for the leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

To be able to see the Pope give mass, in person, is not something that everyone can say they have done.

Junior, Amanda Bocekci, felt so honored to be able to see Pope Francis in person.

“Seeing Pope Francis was very important to me because I am a very religious,” said Bocekci. “With him being such an important figure to Catholics and other Christians, I jumped at the opportunity to see him and to get blessed by his honor.”

Chaplin of MSMC, Father Francis Amodio, described his experience seeing Pope Francis as surreal.

“The best way to describe it is that you know you are seeing him, but you do not believe that you are actually there,” said Amodio. “All the things you hear about Pope Francis are now physically present there.’’

Graduate Student, Anthony Krueger, also felt so blessed to have been able to see Pope Francis.

“Being able to see Pope Francis was a blessing,” said Krueger. “I am forever grateful to have been able to experience it, it really enriched my faith.”

Sophomore, Marisa Mantero said that seeing the pope was one of the most amazing experiences of her life.

“Honestly, it was indescribable,” said Mantero. “It was a once in a lifetime experience that I was blessed to be a part of.”

To experience the presence of a Pope can have a profound impact on one’s life.

“I think the trip did affect me, in a good way, because it showed me that all of these people who were gathered together for the same purpose, to be blessed by Pope Francis,” said Bocekci. “His words really changed me.”

Krueger also agreed that the trip to see Pope Francis changed his life as well.

“I felt, and still feel something more, spiritually, than I have in the past,” said Krueger. “It was almost like an awakening.”

Mantero said that being Catholic is a huge part of who she is.

“Being able to attend mass with Pope Francis reaffirmed everything I believe in and everything I love about the Catholic Church,” said Mantero. “Being in a huge area like Madison Square Garden, with thousands of people who all believe the same things and are all there because of the love we have for our faith and an incredible man who is leading us, was beyond words.”

Fr. Francis found the trip moving to be with the students because of their reactions and comments.

“I hope this feeling of unity and joyfulness will be contagious and we will never forget the presence of Pope Francis in our community,” said Amodio.

Every person who went on the trip will always remember the special day; Some people may call this a once in a lifetime experience.