A Once in a Lifetime Moment


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My view of the Holy Father.

I don’t wear my emotions or my religion on my sleeve. Yesterday though was quite different. While I’ve met plenty of dignitaries and powerful people in the past, I had never seen a Pope in person before. Yesterday I was determined to change that. My first alarm went off at 5:45 AM, and I was in Philadelphia well before a normal work day would begin. I wanted to get just a glimpse of Pope Francis, a man whom I admire. I was going to put in as good of an effort as I could to see him.

As I arrived at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and parked nearby on Overbrook Avenue, I was just hoping for a glimpse. I waited a few hours more than I liked, but I got that glimpse. Situated just across the street from the motorcade’s exit onto City Avenue, Pope Francis’ motorcade pulled out in front of me, and I got several pictures of the Holy Father. Even as I shot those pictures, I made sure that my own eyes were fixated on the car- and him. I had to make sure that I saw him.

The moment was way more moving than I expected. While I’ve seen major world figures before, and even talked to some of them, I’ve never quite felt like I did seeing the Pontiff. I had never seen a Pope before, and maybe I won’t ever again. In that moment though, I saw the one Pope I wanted to see. His presence, the pure feeling of happiness that he carries, struck me in that moment. Just getting a glimpse of him was inspiring. This man is truly special.

There’s a real satisfaction that comes with seeing Pope Francis yesterday. I was born and raised a Byzantine Catholic, and it is a part of my heritage and who I am. The faith taught me many of my values that I hold now, and gave me the basic foundation on which to have values. As his Fiat pulled away down the street, my thoughts rushed to my older relatives, those alive and those deceased, and how important that experience would be for them. Getting up on four hours sleep and driving into Philadelphia was the best decision I made yesterday. In fact, it’s one of the best I’ve made, period.

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