Pope Francis waving

Pope Francis waves to crowd at Madison Square Garden

A few members of our Congregation and staff had the privilege of attending some of the events during Pope Francis’ historic visit to New York. We asked those who attended the Vespers Prayer Service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Mass at Madison Square Garden, or the gathering at Central Park to share a few words about their experience. Below is the first of these reflections.
The experience at Madison Square Garden was heart warming and memorable. It was a gathering of people of every age and background. Waiting on the endless line and then streaming into the Garden—the mounting excitement and energy was palpable. Finally, as Pope Francis entered and was driven up and down the aisles, the throng literally exploded with joy and gratitude.


Sr. Margaret Ellen Burke (left) with Ellen Zafonte

The most moving experience of these days was observing his deep union with God. Every time he paused to enter into that silent communion, the words of the song, “Into the Quiet God Calls You,” reverberated in my being. It also reminded me of Moses’ encounters with God, for Francis came forth even more radiant. I experienced myself present at a transfiguration. Not only was Pope Francis filled with light, he was light!

The light was especially evident in his eyes. How often during these days had he looked up into the audience, at you and me as well? It seemed his way of emphasizing the invitation, the strong call to take seriously his words, which were none other than Jesus’ words in the Gospel.

This celebration at Madison Square Garden was both a gift and a grace that continues to unfold.

Sister Margaret Ellen Burke, SC
September 26, 2015