I spent my afternoon and evening yesterday watching the Pope coverage. I feel like I have seen a Pope 4 times, but that is not true.
In 1976, I attended the Second Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia. I thought I had seen a Pope there, but I looked it up and my memory is wrong. There was the Archbishop of Krakow in attendance, who later became Pope John Paul II. In 1979, I did see him in Philadelphia in the Pope Mobile.
Then last November, a friend informed me that Pope Francis would visit Ankara that very day. I went home and turned on the news. The moment I saw he landed in Ankara, I jumped in a taxi and headed to Anitkabir, Ataturk’s tomb. Only diplomats had been invited. I waited and waited in the street. There were no people, no pomp and circumstance. After it was all done, his motorcade did fly by. I filmed it and was able to distinguish which car was his by slowing down the video. I cried as I left the site.
Yesterday, Pope Francis visited my second hometown, Philadelphia. Although I was not there, I feel like I saw him. He was so close to the places I had lived. If I were there, I could have walked out and touched him.
I watched the coverage on various news channels. I have not attended mass once in Turkey. But yesterday I did from my living room. I sang, and prayed, and ate a biscuit for communion.
I even saw a former classmate from SJU. He was sitting in the sixth row, Father Phil, SJ. The mass was beautiful. Around the altar sat a small crowd of priests. Although priests are still only men, it did hit me that this group was a cross-section of America, every color, every walk of life.
His homily hit me. He told a story of St. Katherine of Drexel. She was part of the very wealthy Drexel family.
According to Wikipedia;
In January 1887, the sisters were received in a private audience by Pope Leo XIII. They asked him for missionaries to staff some of the Indian missions that they had been financing. To their surprise, the Pope suggested that Katharine become a missionary herself. Although she had already received marriage proposals, after consulting her spiritual director, Drexel decided to give herself to God, along with her inheritance, through service to American Indians and Afro-Americans.
According to Pope Francis, Pope Leo’s response to her request was, “Y tu, Katherine?” And you, Katherine? This question, repeated numerous times throughout his homily, had my mind spinning. And what about me?
When I was a kid, I won my first trophy writing an essay on “Religious Vocation in my Family.” My sister was a nun. My godmother is a nun. I had wanted to be a nun. In later years, when I no longer wanted this, I briefly spoke to a former high school friend about it, now Sister Agnes, IHM. She is now an FB friend and saw the Pope in DC.
After mass, I read some news articles. I learned and saw a few things:
- The band that welcomed the Pope at the airport was my high school band – the very school, BSHS, where I played the drums in the band.
- I saw the Pope stopped his car and jumped out to bless a young man in a wheel chair. That boy had cerebral palsy and was the son of the band director from my high school.
- As he made his way to to St. Charles Seminary, the photos of him along the road showed him waving to the crowd as he passed my alma mater, SJU.
Y tu, Theresa? I couldn’t stop thinking about this question. Is the small bit of volunteer work I do enough? Is trying to keep my nieces and nephews on the straight and narrow enough?
At the end of the mass, Pope Francis thanked the people for their answers to this question which inspired their individual vocations.
It’s then that I got it. Yes, I am a lawyer. However, I have not done much with that as far as truly helping others. When I studied law, I did know what I wanted to be when I grew up and in that knowledge lies the answer to the question, “Y tu, Theresa?”
Brenda and John, if you are reading this, I will need your help on this.
And Pope Francis, if you are reading this, no worries. I prayed for you!