On Sept. 24, 12 Saint Mary’s students attended Pope Francis’ Congressional address from the Capitol lawn. With this being the first time that a Pope has spoken to Congress, the students witnessed history in the making.
“[Pope Francis] is the head of our church and knows how to connect with us. When I listen to him, I do not feel like I am being lectured. I feel like he is a kind, guiding hand, leading me into a better life,” said biology student Briana Torres.
The trip provided the students with the opportunity to view leadership first-hand and to learn about past leaders in U.S. history.
“We were able to discuss leadership and view various Washington, D.C. sites, many of which are also connected to leadership. This is all critical as Goal Five of our strategic plan focuses on leadership development; and what better way to have students reflect on leadership than to see Pope Francis and tour the National Capitol?” said Associate Vice President for Mission Tim Gossen, who attended the address with the students.
Tim Gossen (far right) and the group of 12 students who travelled to Washington, D.C. to hear from Pope Francis
Photo by Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
For student Abram Whitebird, the most impactful part of Pope Francis’ address was when he spoke about past American leaders and how we can draw inspiration from their successes to deal with current issues.
“What really spoke to me was his use of the four great American leaders: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. Specifically when he talked about the global abolition of the death penalty,” said Whitebird.
Students had a late night of traveling and an early start, but it was worth it.
Photos by Abram Whitebird
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) gave Saint Mary’s the tickets to view the address from the West Lawn of the Capitol. Students from a variety of classes, majors, and leadership roles were chosen to attend. The group travelled to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23 and was up and moving by 4:00 a.m. to get to the Capitol on Sept. 24. Despite the long hours, students were grateful for the opportunity to witness the event in person.
“Hearing his address alone would have been life-changing, but the people in the crowd made it so much better. We all made quite a few friends and it was so beautiful to see how diverse the Catholic Church can be just here in the United States,” said Torres.