A Beaumont student's reflection on the pilgrimage to see Pope Francis

Bridget Danko '18 wrote the following reflection about her experience traveling to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis with several other members of the Beaumont community. 

Recently, 14 students, three faculty members and parent chaperones traveled to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families led by Pope Francis. Being one of the students chosen, I felt that it was a great honor and experience that I will never forget. Friday morning before leaving for a six and a half hour bus ride, our group met in the St. Angela Merici Chapel to pray for safe travels, intentions, and for an experience that would lead us to deepen our faith and open our hearts to hear the words Christ is speaking to us.

After the prayer service, we waited for the bus to begin our journey to Philadelphia that would create an experience that would change our faith and possibly even change our lives. Once the bus arrived, we said our final goodbyes to parents, faculty members and the building of Beaumont to set off on a journey; a pilgrimage. As we pulled out of the Beaumont parking lot, I knew that Monday afternoon when we returned our faiths would not be the same but in a good way.

The road trip was filled with rest stops, music, snacking, some napping and homework. Once we arrived in Philadelphia, we hopped off the bus with our belongings to walk approximately a mile to our destination of where we would be sleeping for the next two nights in our sleeping bags on a gym floor. Saturday morning we woke up and set off to walk to Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Pope Francis would pass hundreds of thousands of people hours later in his Pope Mobile, including us Beaumont students, faculty members and parents. After seven hours, one of our goals for the trip had been accomplished - we saw Pope Francis in reality! It was no longer on the TV, through pictures, or video but he was feet away from us. Pope Francis not only passed us once, but twice! The second time was even more special as we were even closer to him, and he also blessed us.

Following an exciting previous day, Sunday morning we set off to watch Pope Francis give his Papal Mass at Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul Basilica with us watching us through the megatrons in Independence Park, where the previous day he had just given a talk on religious freedom and immigration. Out of all the Catholic masses that we had ever attended, I believe that this mass was a mass that had a distinct and profound meaning.

One of Pope Francis’ missions throughout this trip was to deepen relationship in families. Beaumont is a family, and friendships in this faith-based experience grew in such a strong way. We experienced something during this trip that allowed us to relate to each one another even more; an experience had been created that only we could share together. As we wrapped up our pilgrimage Sunday evening to journey back to Beaumont, we began to reflect on our experience and we realized that sleeping on the sleeping bags on a gym floor, walking a significant amount of miles, and maybe not showering for a couple of days was worth everything.

An experience had been provided by Beaumont that changed so many of our lives in such a uniquely but beautiful way. We realized even more why Theology classes are part of a required curriculum at Catholic high schools such as Beaumont. Beaumont has deepened our faith, friendships grew and a pilgrimage was provided that allowed for a memory to be created that we can look back on to help us in times of despair, when our faith is being tested and to see why being Catholic is a gift. It showed to us that Christ will never abandon us and that he has such a beautiful future for each one of us. Some many people traveled for other countries or states because of the fact that Pope Francis is a reflection of Christ in the real world today.