Pope Benedict's visit to US: 7 months later


I was thinking last night about Pope Benedict’s visit to the US in April, and began looking at the impact it had on myself. I was curious to know what kind of an impact in others lives it has made.

I was fortunate enough to be able to get a ticket to the mass in DC. It was an incredible experience, While I was there, I went to the National Basillica which I recommend to anyone who has not seen it. I have found myself since that time to be reading my Bible more, and I began reading more books that were written by Pope’s and Cardinals. I also found myself discussing my religion with more people. When I returned from the trip, my coworkers wanted to know everything that happened, and what the Pope’s message was etc… It was a wonderful opportunity the Lord presented for me to discuss these things with others. It was great to see other people’s curiosity since I live in Tennessee where we have 1 Catholic church in my county (pop. 90,000), and there are approximately 10 Catholics at my work out of over 400. Overall, I found myself having a much more positive and faithful outlook on life.


I’ve felt much more optimistic about the Church since Pope Benedict’s visit. I’ve also gone back and read some of his books.
He is a brilliant scholar, and what has struck me is how clear and lucid his writing is. Most scholarly writing I’ve read lately is so filled with jargon that it is almost impossible to read. Not Pope Benedict’s writing. I have to read it slowly and thoughtfully, but it is clear and understandable.


I’m glad to hear that the Pope Benedict’s recent visit… has had such a positive effect on people.

I wasn’t present, this time around… at any of those events. But just to have the Holy Father on American soil… was a huge blessing.

However, I DID get to participate in two events when Pope John Paul II visited Los Angeles a number of years ago. We received his blessing, a number of times. And got to participate in a Papal Mass. I will never forget it.

Since that time, I have had a great devotion to John Paul II. Even during the time I was “fallen away” from the Church. His intercession was instrumental in my return to the practice of our faith. I really believe that he looks out for me.

Our Lord chooses such wonderful Shepards for us.


I personally was drawn to the Catholic church because of John Paul II. My grandmother was Catholic, but my parents were Baptist. My Grandmother got to see John Paul in Chicago in 79, and always talked about it with me. This led to my confirmation in 1997.

I agree Benedict’s writing are more easily understandable then a lot of others. I thought the mass in DC, along with the mass in NY and other speeches he gave were very good. I thought he stayed true to the message of Christ our Hope. I was definately blessed to be able to attend the mass, and am even more blessed by the positive effect it had on me.


I’ve never had the honour of participating at a mass presided by Pope Benedict XVI. I did have the honour of participating at the Christmas Vigil at St. Peter’s in 1998, presided by Pope John Paul II and concelebrated by Cardinal Ratzinger. I sat three rows away from the sanctuary. I will never forget that.

As to Pope Benedict’s visit to the USA, I was unable to attend any of the events, but was glued to my TV the entire time. There were some things that left a lasting impression on me. The man himself left an impression on me. I have served the Church as a missionary, professor, formation director for religious life, vocation director and other capacities since 1969. During that time, I had always known Joseph Ratzinger to be a very stuffy and conservative theologian. That was the impression that the world got whenever his name appeared in the news. His interaction with the people in Washington, DC and NY shattered that image forever. The man exudes a certain degree of shyness and simplicity that is far from stuffy. His language exhibited great intelligence; but who said that intelligent people cannot be shy?

There were several moving moments too. I hope that Catholics in the United States will never forget them. When he visited the synagogue in NY he said that he was reminded that Jesus prayed in a temple such as this. Those words were deliberately spoken for Jews and Christians. They were meant to remind us of the fraternal bonds and common roots between the two faiths. Many Jewish people will think about Jesus when they enter that synagogue. Hopefully, many Catholics will also think about Jesus when they encounter a Jew. Such a simple gesture and thought is not a full act of communion, but we have to begin somewhere.

It was equally impressive to see the numbers of young religious men and women, as well as secular seminarians at the mass that he celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I realize that we always need more men and women religious, as well as secular priests. But I hope those images of so many young men and women in religious life and so many secular young men who will someday be secular priests will instil a sense of hope in Catholics. It was very inspiring to know that so many young people are still answering Christ’s call to celibacy, religious life or priesthood. There were also many new religious communities there. As older religious congregations die out, there are no voids. The Holy Spirit fills those gaps with new religious communities such as the Sisters of Life, the Franciscans of the Renewal, the Franciscans of the Eternal Word and many others.

I believe that the Holy Father wanted to spend time with men and women religious and secular seminarians. But he also wanted to make a visual statement to the Church in the United States. Christ has kept his promise, “I shall be with you until the end of time.” Our youth are willing to follow Christ, as religious, as priests or as consecrated lay people. Our youth are not lost to God. Despite the sin in our society, life prevails.

When he met the children with developmental disabilities at the seminary was another moving moment. I minister to families who have loved ones with disabilities. This is a population that gets little press within Catholic circles. Even here on CAF, several threads were started on this topic and few people expressed interest in them. People born with disabilities or who become disabled bring to the world and to the Church a different kind of perfect. The Holy Father brought that out into the open. They are our brothers and sisters and they are meant to be part of the daily life of the Church.

The crowning moment of the Holy Father’s visit was his secret meeting with the victims of sexual abuse by priests. This meeting was arranged through Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM. Cap, the Archbishop of Boston and a Capuchin Franciscan Friar. I thought that this was handled with great sensitivity and with a touch of class. The fact that the Holy Father met and prayed with 50 of these persons, under the noses of the press and no one knew about it until it was over, spoke to me about Christ’s love for those who suffer. He protects their dignity and heals their wounds without man being the wiser. The memory of this great act of justice, kindness and respect that the Holy Father and the Cardinal showed toward these brothers and sisters will linger in my own for many years to come.


JR :slight_smile:


I’ve been optimistic about the Church in America too. I too live in Tennessee (the western part) where there are very few Catholics. There is no Catholic Church in my county so I have to drive 30 minutes away to go to Mass. The Holy Father’s visit has definitely renewed my faith and I find myself praying more than I used to, reading the Bible more, wanting to be more involved, etc. I wish I had gotten to go see him but sadly I missed it. I hope that my renewed sense of faith helps me and that others have a renewed sense of faith too.


His visit was so inspiring. I saw so many non-Catholics in the media saying positive things, and even my uber-Lutheran, anti-Catholic relatives seemed to like him (probably because he’s German, but hey :p). I wanted to go see him so badly! Papa, come baaaaack!


My seat at the DC mass was 15 rows up behind the home dugout. They brought him in and out of that dugout, and I was fortunate enough to get some excellent pictures of our beloved Pope waving towards or section. I agree that his secret meeting with the abuse victims showed his remorse for the actions of those responsible. He even made mention of it during his mass. He did show a softer side of his personality to us during this visit.


And don’t forget the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia , Nashville TN: youtube.com/watch?v=SHtTcPSYVhE

These communities are not only new, but very orthodox. What I’m seeing in our times is a thirst for truth and clarity among the youth. The pendulum is swinging back. I hope that our Holy Father will schedule future visits – even though it’s a bit selfish of us (me), considering the North American church makes up a very small percentage of the whole. But we need the medicine. I don’t see as much trouble in other countries. I see orthodoxy and zeal. I see a lot of vocations. America needs some of that.

As for myself, I’m praying about putting my money where my mouth is. I found a somewhat local (only 4 hours away) friary of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, and I would very much like to be a benefactor. Invest in the best! :thumbsup:

May God’s peace be in our country.


I thought about the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia. They have many young sisters, but the congegation is over 100 years old. They are a branch of the first Dominican Sisters to arrive in the USA.

JR :slight_smile:


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