As Pope Francis’s first visit to the United States approached, media outlets contacted the Franciscan friars to ask questions about the Church’s stance on issues such as climate change and immigration, and to learn more about the saint that has inspired our current pontiff.
Several news outlets featured St. Francis Breadline, connecting the ministry’s mission to the message to care for the poor and the vulnerable that is so often communicated by the pope.
Two members of St. Camillus Church — Erick Lopez, OFM, and Secular Franciscan Sandra Perez — appeared on NBC News to speak about how beloved the pope is to their multicultural parish, where people from all over the world gather to worship.
“There are people from everywhere. [St. Camillus] is a vision from the kingdom of heaven. I assume the kingdom of heaven is something like this,” said Erick of the Maryland parish’s diverse congregation. “We are Catholics. We always love the pope, but this pope is special.”
Franciscan theologian Kenneth Himes, OFM, of Boston College, gave a preview of what he thought the pope’s visit would be like to the Council on Foreign Relation, which published the interview on its website.
“The pope wants to get the face of the poor before most Americans, and not just Americans,” Ken said. “He wants to make sure that we don’t assess society, we don’t assess global order, from the perspective of those at the center of it.”
Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, strongly recommended the article to friars and laypeople.
“As you would expect, Ken’s content is excellent,” Kevin said. “What is of equal significance is the audience who will read his remarks — policy markers and research staffers from throughout the world consult a publication like this for information. Such an audience is not regularly exposed to the reflections of a theologian. I am very proud that Ken is able to share his insights and his Franciscan outlook with these people.”
Siena College president F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, also spoke to the media about what he anticipated the pope’s visit would be like. In an interview with an Albany, N.Y., cable news station, Ed described how Pope Francis has provided a “great witness” to all people, and shared how he felt that the pontiff would address global issues like climate change, income inequality and the refugee crisis.
Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, of St. Camillus, Silver Spring, appeared in a video series produced by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Communications Office. In “Love is Our Mission: Ecology,” he provides a Franciscan perspective on “Laudato Si’” and climate change.
“For the vulnerable communities, climate change is not a political issue — it is a right to life issue, a matter of survival. What’s happening to our common home is unprecedented in the history of humanity,” said Jacek. “Our collective actions are radically altering the earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land. In speaking to Congress and the UN General Assembly, Pope Francis will give voice to the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time. That is an essential element of the Church’s mission.”
Several friars were featured on the airwaves — Daniel Horan, OFM, was a guest on SiriusXM’s Busted Halo Show on Sept. 22. Provincial Councilor David Convertino, OFM, and Lawrence Ford, OFM, pastor of Holy Name Parish in New York City, were interviewed on Sept. 24 for the “Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd” SiriusXM radio show.
“They did a great job, and their conversation blended so well with the pope going to meet the homeless later that day in Washington, D.C.,” said the show’s producer. SiriusXM subscribers can download the show via the company’s website.
After St. Junípero Serra’s canonization Mass, a photo essay by Christian Seno, OFM, who attended the liturgy, appeared on Loyola Magazine‘s blog. Christian is pursuing a master’s in pastoral counseling on the faith and social justice track at Loyola University Maryland.
“It was such a tremendous experience. It was overwhelming in many ways, but positive. Just to experience being together with an entire church helps even people who don’t necessarily believe but are really drawn by Pope Francis’ message,” he said. “Just to see the seminarians, cloistered nuns in their full habits, was really exciting. I like seeing religious when they’re not dour, when they’re texting, when they’re on their iPhone taking pictures. It’s just really being just like everybody else.”
Mark Reamer, OFM, and Julian Davies, OFM, of Loudonville, N.Y., shared their experience of the canonization Mass with Albany’s cable news station. “It was inspiring to be present and be with so many other people,” said Mark. Julian added, “I relate to [Pope Francis] in a way because he was a philosophy teacher for 20 years or so.”
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Tweeting the Good News — Responsibly” — Nov. 6, 2013, HNP Today
- “Media Turns to Franciscans Following Pope’s Election” — March 27, 2013, HNP Today
- “Virginia Parish Garners Media Attention for Varied Initiatives” — Nov. 19, 2014, HNP Today