The Friday Five: The Best of Pope Francis’ Visit that the Media Missed

This week, we reflect on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to the United States through the eyes of our diocesan family.

By:  Elise Italiano, Director of Communications


A view from the top. I had the privilege of being in the choir loft with many journalists who were covering the Canonization Mass of Saint Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We waited together for hours, looking down on the many seminarians, priests, and religious who were gathering below in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where the Holy Father would quickly pass through before vesting for Mass.  It suddenly occurred to me that this was God’s view — from above — looking down on His children.  And the view was of a humble man in white, whose magnanimity comes not from celebrity, but from radiating the peace of Christ.  I’ll let the overflowing joy speak for itself:


First thing’s first.  The Holy Father prays before the Blessed Sacrament in every single church or chapel he enters.  And he’s made it clear that this is the source of his desire to serve the poor, the vulnerable, and the defenseless, not service for service’s sake.

Elise Pope Francis 1

But the Eucharist which I celebrate, does it lead me to truly feel they are all like brothers and sisters? Does it increase my capacity to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and cry with those who are crying? Does it urge me to go out to the poor, the sick, the marginalized? Does it help me to recognize in theirs the face of Jesus? We all go to Mass because we love Jesus and we want to share, through the Eucharist, in his passion and his resurrection. But do we love, as Jesus wishes, those brothers and sisters who are the most needy? — Pope Francis, General Audience, February 12, 2014


Working hard for the…character? The Holy Father gave a brief, understated address to UN personnel — the unsung heroes of the organization, the “fieldworkers, officials and secretaries, translators and interpreters, cleaners and cooks, maintenance and security personnel.” He even ad-libbed a little humor, instructing those present to greet the other laborers who did not “win the lottery” for tickets to the talk.

But it was this line that stopped me in my tracks:

Your quiet and devoted work not only contributes to the betterment of the United Nations. It also has great significance for you personally. For how we work expresses our dignity and the kind of persons we are. —Pope Francis

The Holy Father reminded us: work sanctifies.


Faith in Philadelphia. By far my absolute favorite moment was the Holy Father’s impromptu address at the Festival of Families.  I will never forget standing on the Benjamin Franklin  Parkway with thousands of others, feeling as if we were in a small parish, and the Holy Father was our pastor. If you haven’t watched it, watch it in full here.  My small video captured what to me was the most profound reality of the night — that here was this gentle messenger, shining light in the darkness.


Until we meet again. While many media outlets have moved on to other news, Pope Francis continues to instruct and inspire the faithful, and to remain close with us even though he has returned to Rome. Today, on the Feast of the Guardian Angels, he preached:

He is always with us!  And this is a reality.  It’s like having God’s ambassador with us.  And the Lord advises us: ‘Respect his presence!’ And when we, for example, commit a sin and believe that we’re on our own: No, he is there. Show respect for his presence. Listen to his voice because he gives us advice. When we hear that inspiration: ‘But do this … this is better … we should not do that.’ Listen! Do not go against him.

Let us keep him in our daily prayers, as he asked us countless times. And let’s share the fruits of this visit with those we encounter!

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