Recently one of my good friends and parishioner here at the Newman Center, JoAnna Seltzer, shared the following story about her son, Seth. (Seth is three years old. His primary interests are Thomas the Train, the Giants baseball team, and Star Wars). On the day of the Pope’s Mass in Juarez earlier this month, Seth and JoAnna took a break from playing light sabers in the kitchen and watched the TV coverage of Pope Francis’ trip to Juarez. After watching for a while Seth apparently said, “Pope Francis keeps talking about mercy, when is he going to talk about trains?”
Campus Ministry students and staff had the opportunity to go to the UTEP Sun Bowl for the “Two Nations One Faith” event celebrating the Pope’s Mass. It was such an incredible witness to see nearly 30,000 people from our border area gather- taking time off from work, school, etc.- to be part of the occasion! It was one of those big experiences that is sometimes hard to put into words and the effect of which does not fully sink in until later. In conversation with students after the event, I found different people had different favorite moments. For some it was Pope Francis blessing the cross at the border. For others it was the Pope’s homily, his words on mercy for migrants and victims of violence. For others it was hearing the Pope say “Sun Bowl.” What was the same for everyone was a deep seated understanding of the love and mercy in the experience, a message so evident even a three-year-old can hear it loud and clear.
May we all, young and old, continue to be impacted by Pope Francis’ call to be merciful, during this Year of Mercy and afterward. Please pray for Campus Ministry staff and students as we prepare to engage in works of mercy as we visit with the residents of Camp Hope tent city next week as part of our Service Saturdays.