Sister sees renewal of missionary zeal in trip

Our first encounter with the Pope was at the Independence Hall, where he spoke from the podium where President Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most famous speeches in the history of the United States: the Gettysburg Address. I knew about Gettysburg because I lived there for four years before coming to Mississippi. There Pope Francis spoke on the importance of human dignity, religious freedom, about immigrants, presenting himself as the son of immigrants. He said, “Please, don’t ever feel ashamed of your traditions. Don’t forget the lessons you learned from your elders which can enrich the life of this American land.”
The Hispanic people were shouting “Viva el papa.” “Francisco, friend, the church is with you.” Something very significant was to hear Spanish, both by the people and the pope, to see so many flags flying, among them the Argentinian that fluttered with pride like so many others. Hispanics, in the midst of so many policemen felt safe because the “father,” the pope was present and he was the focal point of all the attention. The atmosphere was of joy, happiness, surprise of what the pope would do or what he would say spontaneously and simply that would make us laugh. He although tired, drew energy from the people that were in the thousands.
To see him closer from first row, both Saturday and Sunday I had to get up early, walk for miles and spend many hours standing or sitting on the floor waiting for those two minutes he passed in front of me. At the Independence Mall, as in the Festival of  Families, in the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, and in the closing Mass of families, the pope valued and reaffirmed the importance of the family and the need to work to keep it united.
There is a lot to say, but I will conclude by saying that this was a great family celebration in which all or the majority savored a word, a phrase, a sign, a gesture, a moving attitude of the pope and, I dare say, that some people who are not catholic were impact in some way.
I hope it is God’s will that this missionary spirit renew our hearts and inspire us to “come out” of ourselves to embrace what he calls “the culture of the encounter.” The messages are here to continue deepening on them now and then put them into practice.