Pilgrimage to Washington DC to see Pope Francis

By Angel Garcia, Diocese of Orlando seminarian, pictured above in the second row, last seminarian on the right.

What an honor and blessing for all the priests, seminarians, religious, and laity of the United States of America to be able to have an encounter with our shepherd. Pope Francis has truly set a great example since the beginning of his papacy, since he came unto the balcony of St. Peters Basilica, after his election, and asked the faithful to pray for him. He teaches us how to be humble and how to pay attention to the “little ones” of society. It was touching to be near the Vicar of Christ, and to listen to what he had to say to his flock here in America. This pilgrimage to Washington to meet the Holy Father was indeed reaffirming and strengthening for my vocation to the priesthood.

About 30,000 people gathered at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to attend the canonization Mass of Junipero Serra. Catholics from all the United States gathered as one body, one community, and one flock, to encounter Pope Francis. A leader who is not just a role model for Catholics, but for all those who desire the good for others. He is also a great role model for all the seminarians, who will be the future priests and bishops of the world. Besides being a role model, Pope Francis also reminds us of what it means to be a Christian. It is all about love for God, and love for our neighbors. While some Christians keep their focus on the philosophical thoughts of St. Agustine, or the teachings of the Church Fathers, Pope Francis reminds us of the importance of the pastoral care. The philosophical thoughts of Plato and St. Thomas Aquinas are indeed essential for the formation of a seminarian, but we cannot forget the greatest of all the commandments “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22: 37-39).

The inside of the Basilica was mostly filled with seminarians and religious from different parts of the United States. I was surrounded by the future, and the present of the Church. What I saw inside that Basilica was hope. There I saw great potential for future priests. In his homily Pope Francis said that “Life grows by giving it, and weakens in isolation and comfort.” These are words of encouragement, and reminds us that we must sacrifice our lives for the sake of others if we truly want to live. During that homily I heard more than the Pope speaking, because I heard Jesus speaking through His Vicar. Pope Francis is an echo of Jesus’ words, and he is teaching us how to be better Christians. He doesn’t only preach the Gospel, but also lives it, and he invites us to do the same. After being surrounded by all those seminarians and religious, I have high expectations for the Church in the future. May God Bless the Pope, and may God Bless America!

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc-news/watch/pope-arrives-at-national-basilica-531044931780

You can see Angel and some of our other Diocese of Orlando seminarians in the MSNBC video at 0:48-0:56 and then more Diocese of Orlando seminarians, including Juan Osorno, at 1:03.

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