For months, people across the U.S. have been anticipating the arrival of a very special guest – Pope Francis. We’ve been hearing about it in the news, seen the preparations taking place, and many of us, myself included, even entered a drawing to win tickets to see the popular Pontiff.
After a highly publicized, and historic, visit to the land of my roots, Cuba, Pope Francis made the journey to the U.S. for a multi-city tour. On Tuesday, September 22nd, the People’s Pope as he’s known, landed in Washington, DC where he celebrated with national leaders, including President Obama, as well as some of our nation’s less fortunate, the homeless living in our Nation’s capitol. Throughout his stay in Washington, he addressed Congress in one of the most powerful, inspiring speeches ever made before our nation’s representatives. The message transcended religious choice, age, and ethnic background – it was one calling for peace, encouraging law makers to work together towards solutions that would benefit us all.
Then, just yesterday, he made his way to New York City. I had entered a drawing late last week in hopes of winning a ticket to see the beloved Holy Father, but never really thought I’d be chosen. Well, I was.
So, yesterday afternoon, a colleague and I hurriedly made our way down to New York’s notorious Fifth Avenue in hopes of catching a glimpse of the grand Holy man. We waited for hours on end, hungry and tired, but excited and nervous all at the same time.
There are no real words to describe the energy in the air. I, along with hundreds of people (even animals), New Yorkers and non, were there for a once in a life time opportunity. Finally, as we tracked his whereabouts on Twitter, Facebook, and news alerts popping up on our smartphones, we could hear the roar from just two blocks down — Pope Francis had arrived. The sirens went off, and motorcycle engines roared. Helicopters flew above and the people cheered.
Within minutes, Pope Francis appeared on his retrofitted “Pope Mobile” waving to crowds of loving fans (a very cool looking white Jeep, I must admit). He waved to his people and the people waved back. They shouted his name, raised mini Vatican flags in the air, and shared FaceTime moments with their loved ones. It was truly a remarkable, and unforgettable scene, though one that went by all too fast.
Overall, it was a peaceful, joyful experience. I was heartwarming to people come together to celebrate such a revered and beloved man. And while he’s become a celebrity of sorts, he is one who is famous for his noble causes, compassion and humility… just the way it should be.