Shortly after Pope Francis announced his intention to visit the United States, St. Bonaventure University alumna Jasmine Jaysingh, ‘06, was invited to be among the people who would greet the pontiff at Andrews Air Force Base when he arrived in the U.S.
Jaysingh hoped that she would catch a glimpse of him deplaning from the papal jet, at the very least. Never did she imagine that she would be among those to receive a blessing from the pope during the Canonization Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Celebrating With Pope Francis
The chair of 270Catholic was one of 11 gift bearers for Communion during the Sept. 23 Mass. She was nominated by someone in the Archdiocese of Washington and selected by the papal Mass liturgy team. After she was chosen to be a gift bearer, she gave her place at the air force base to someone else.
“I was in shock when I found out. I was so excited, yet very humbled,” said Jaysingh, who majored in accounting at Bonaventure. She works as an auditor at Kozak, Pollekoff & Goldman, P.C.
“I never thought that I’d be this involved with the Church, but as I’ve grown, I’ve looked back on all my good fortune, on all the things that God has done for me, and the Church just feels like home now,” she said. “I’m just more at peace and have more joy in my life, and I’m happy to share that with everyone.”
Jaysingh wasn’t the only partner-in-ministry connected to Holy Name Province to participate in the Canonization Mass. Tracey McDonnell, music director of St. Camillus Parish, Silver Spring, Md., Henry Herrera, music teacher at St. Francis International School, Silver Spring, and Fr. Damian Park, OFM, of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, performed with the multicultural choir during the liturgy celebrating the canonization of St. Junípero Serra, OFM.
The choir included more than 50 music ministers with roots from countries around the globe, including Benin, Cameroon, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, the Ivory Coast, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Tanzania, the United States and Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Vietnam.
In addition to songs sung in English, Spanish and Latin, the choir also performed in Creole, French, Mandarin, Russian, Swahili and Zulu.
“As a member of the wonderful Franciscan community of St. Camillus since 1991, I was particularly happy to see St. Francis of Assisi’s magnificent ‘Canticle of the Creatures’ represented to accompany the procession of bishops,” said McDonnell, who co-directed with Herrera. “At the Intercultural Choir’s final rehearsal at St. Camillus, our opening prayer had focused on the connection between this iconic text and the Holy Father’s recent encyclical. It was noted that on the day the encyclical was published, Pope Francis tweeted the following from the Catholic Catechism, a powerful reminder of our connection with and moral obligation to all creatures ‘both great and small.’ He wrote, ‘It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.’”
‘The Most Spiritual Moment of Our Lives’
After Pope Francis concluded his visit to Washington, he traveled to New York City. The night before he gave his speech to the United Nations, thousands gathered for an interfaith prayer service near the building. Among them were members of St. Mary’s Parish, Pompton Lakes, N.J.
Parishioners from Holy Name Province’s churches in the Archdiocese of New York attended the Sept. 25 evening Mass celebrated by the pope at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. Among them were Daniel Miller and his wife, Danitza, of Holy Name of Jesus Parish in New York City, who called the experience “one of the most spiritual moments of our lives.”
“My wife and I attended Pope John Paul’s Central Park Mass in the mid-1990s, and we were lucky enough to attend Easter Mass in 2013 conducted by Pope Benedict at St. Peter’s Square,” Daniel said. “And now, we were lucky enough to attend Pope Francis’s Mass at Madison Square Garden. It is a memory we will cherish the rest of our lives.
“He serves as an example to all,” Daniel added. “He energized the crowd with his deliberate and composed messages about the disenfranchised and anonymous portions of the population in big urban settings. He reminded us of God’s mercy, reminded us of how much God loves us, and reminded us to pray for him, which we will do every week, and more. We also will never forget Cardinal Dolan speaking so eloquently for all of us in thanking Pope Francis for his visit.”
Jacqueline Espinal, secretary at Holy Name Parish, also attended the Mass. After standing in line for several hours waiting to be admitted to the stadium, she said “As soon as I sat down in my seat, everything just melted away. I wasn’t tired or hungry anymore.” She didn’t take any photos during the liturgy because she wanted to “be in the moment.”
A Renewed Sense of Catholicism
In Philadelphia, the Emmaus Ministry for Grieving Parents of Boston was one of the exhibitors at the World Meeting of Families. For five days, Charley and Diane Monaghan shared their ministry with marriage and family life coordinators, bereavement coordinators, publishers and directors of complementary ministries.
“They came to us from diocese all over the United States and the world, including from Bermuda, Nigeria, Singapore and Viet Nam,” said Diane in a document summarizing the experience. “We also had grieving parents stop by, as well as friends of grieving parents. Several times during the conference, we took off our exhibitor hats and literally companioned these heartbroken parents and friends, all the while believing that we were meant to be in this place, at this time, for a reason.”
Though the exhibit hall was closed a day earlier than planned for security reasons, the Monaghans left Philadelphia “with a beautiful, renewed sense of and pride for Catholicism, and a feeling of oneness with others, thanks to the People’s Pope and his wonderful smile.”
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province. Research was provided by Jocelyn Thomas.
- “Recalling Experiences at Masses Celebrated by ‘People’s Pope’” — Sept. 30, 2015, HNP Today
- “Media Outlets Turn to Friars During Papal Visit” — Sept. 30, 2015, HNP Today
- “Ministries Share in Joy of Pope’s Visit” — Sept. 30, 2015, HNP Today