How Pope Francis has inspired the local faithful

| March 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

Habemus papam! These words, spoken one year ago to announce the election of Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the 265th pope, marked the beginning of a headline-making year for Pope Francis.

From physically embracing people with disabilities to celebrating his birthday with homeless men, Pope Francis has shown the world what it means to be a Christian. And in word and deed, he has called Catholics to achieve the high moral standards required by the faith.

Below are impressions of Pope Francis from several local faithful who have struggled in various ways, but have found inspiration and hope during his first year as pontiff.

Linda O’Connell, a parishioner at St. Wenceslaus in New Prague, got divorced four years ago after a 40-year marriage. She belongs to a support group at her parish and said that while some people feel disconnected from the Church after a divorce, the reason she stays with the Church is because of its views on marriage and divorce. She hopes Pope Francis’ work will focus on keeping families together so that divorce doesn’t happen.

“[The pope] is open. I think everyone I’ve talked to, Catholic or not, sees someone humble and meek, and a good person. I think he’s going to do some really good things,” she said.

Porfidio Martinez, a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul, emigrated from El Salvador more than 20 years ago during the country’s civil war and has lived in Minnesota ever since.

“I am not happy about Pope Francis simply because he is from Latin America,” he said.” Personally, I am very excited because he is a model of how we are to live our faith. He is not Superman or some superstar, but this pope is an illuminating light for all of us. He is modeling for us a profound faith and a real spirituality of the incarnation. A spirituality of the incarnation is rooted in the humility of Jesus living among us as a ‘poor’ person with those most marginalized. And Pope Francis models for us this spirit of God in talking of the poor, of illuminating a ‘Church of the poor,’ for changing our hearts and putting into action the preferential option for the poor.

“I am excited in Pope Francis, but also in the very great light he is modeling for Church leadership. Personally, the most important question is: How do we as a Church live the spirit of Jesus today? How do we live our faith today? How do we model the incarnation of Jesus as the Church today? Pope Francis’ spirituality is a testimonial of the love of God for the poor, the God of justice, and the incarnation of Jesus as a poor man. As Minnesotans, the pope pushes us forward, deepens our faith and challenges us to be a Church of the poor and for the marginalized in our community, most especially those immigrants without [documentation and citizenship].”

Mary Kellett, a parishioner at St. Raphael in Crystal, and her family founded Prenatal Partners for Life after her son, Peter, died at the age of 6 in 2011 from Trisomy 18, a chromosomal defect. The ministry provides information, support and encouragement to families who receive an adverse diagnosis.

“Pope Francis is so very good at showing us the unconditional love we should have for every person. He is just so full of love for everyone, and that’s so apparent. The less we care for [children with disabilities], the more our hearts are hardened. I think our pope is softening our hearts by his example of love,” she said.

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