Today hundreds of Saint Joseph’s University students lined City Avenue to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis arriving at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary around noon and then again when he departed for the Center City around 4:00. During both passes student’s enthusiasm was contagious. Cheers, including a rendition of “When the hawks go flying in,” could be heard throughout the crowd.
I couldn’t help but smile being a part of such a historic event for the city of Philadelphia and for our school. Every person I passed was grinning and excited to just see Pope Francis for a second. In my time here I don’t think I have ever seen such a rallying of the student body around one single thing or person. In addition to the students in attendance, members of the surrounding community turned out as well.
Pope Francis has really won the hearts and minds of Philadelphia, and not just Catholics. As a non-Catholic student of a Jesuit University even I feel proud to have a connection with such a compassionate and well-meaning world leader. Observing the crowds today I saw people of all races and religions. People who appreciate this man for the opinions he holds on social justice, the family, and poverty.
The beauty of Pope Francis is that you don’t have to be Catholic to be a supporter. Instead of alienating people who do not subscribe to the beliefs of the Catholic Church he has welcomed us with welcome arms so that we can all make the world a better place together. This inclusion and the constant striving for improvement is truly a perfect example of the magis.