TONI ANN BUCHALSKI
On September 25, several St. Thomas Aquinas College students travelled to New York City for Pope Francis’s visit to America. The college was lucky enough to have received multiple tickets to the Mass that was to be said at Madison Square Garden.
It had been rumored that 100,000 tickets were requested for the Mass, but only 20,000 were allotted, as that is the highest number the venue could hold. After experiencing the Papal Mass alongside many of my close friends, I can honestly say it was a truly wonderful experience.
Pope Francis has been deemed the “people’s pope.” It is absolutely true. The Pope had a very busy week here in the U.S., and his day in New York was packed with events. He said Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, visited the United Nations, spent time with children at a charter school in Harlem, processed through Central Park, and finally said Mass in Madison Square Garden. While waiting for the Pope to arrive, the crowd was entertained by multiple choirs, prayer groups, performers and other guest speakers. The rosary was recited by a number of organizations throughout the city, including one with special needs and another children’s group. Some of the rosary was even recited in different languages as to cater to the multitude of culture represented throughout the venue. Some of the performers include Jennifer Hudson, Gloria Estefan, and Harry Connick Jr. At 6:15, the Pope arrived, and processed into Madison Square Garden, heavily surrounded by security and other clergy.
The Mass included a few different languages, which I thought was a great way to incorporate everyone. The Homily was said in Spanish while the other parts of the Mass were said in Latin. In one particular part of the Mass, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, French and English were all used. It really felt like the whole world was represented. By the end of the Mass, those who attended could clearly see just how tired he was. However, Pope Francis was in great spirits! He made jokes throughout the Mass and Homily. The crowd was full of warm receivers who kept chanting “Francisco” and erupting in endless applause. I can honestly say that it was an unforgettable experience. It meant a lot to me that I was able to share this experience with several of my closest friends here at STAC. It is a moment that we all found not only enlightening, but also peaceful. It gave us a moment to realize that even though there is so much negativity surrounding us in the world, there is a still a sense of purity and peace that can be found.