I was in my classroom seven years ago on this day. I was on my way to the faculty meeting in the high school library when I received a text from my son that let me know that we had a new pope elected in the Catholic Church. I’d been following the ballots of the college of cardinals. Just that morning on my way out the door to the school district I had checked the news and there was no announcement.
All of that changed for me and the world when we received word that Jose Maria Bergolio, a cardinal from Argentina had just been elected pope. I had never heard of him but a quick search of the internet revealed that he was a forward thinking person. He was in tune with liberation theology. He would take the church in new directions. Tears welled in my eyes when I heard this good news and later learned that he had taken the name Francis. In a twist of irony he was the first Jesuit to be named pope and he took the name of the popular saint who had been called on to rebuild the church 800 years before.
I just finished watching The Two Popes on Netflix. It’s a great movie and it wasn’t until I’d finished that I realized that today is the anniversary of that great event. I got to see Pope Francis in person when I visited Rome a couple of years ago along with a group of United States Veterans. It was a powerful experience that day to be sitting along with thousands of others in St. Peter’s Square and to hear the Holy Father speak and receive his blessing. It’s an experience I’ll remember forever. I took the picture above when the Pope passed near us in the square.Happy Anniversary Pope Francis!