The following post is a reflection contibuted by Andrea Kopp, Manager of Educational Resources at NCEA.
“My new position at NCEA has sparked my relocation to the DC area. As someone who has grown up in Florida beach towns, the atmosphere and culture in this area is very different. While several NCEA staffers were blessed to have tickets to various Papal events, I was not among them. As a staff, we watched the Holy Father arrive via webcast in our conference room. My two sons joined us to watch Pope Francis’ arrival and questioned, “Mom, why aren’t we there cheering?” Despite the well intentioned warnings from locals about getting in and out of DC on the day of a big event, my boys’ enthusiasm to be a part of history inspired me to take them into the city, alone for the first time, to attempt to get a glimpse of the Holy Father and cheer in person in the short parade that would take place in DC.
It started with the Mommy-lecture that we would have to get up early and wait for a very long time. They were warned that we may not get a parade spot where we could see and once we got through and found a place to stand, there would be no restroom breaks and they had to make up all of the schoolwork they miss. They excitedly agreed and we shook on the deal. By 6:30 a.m. we left the house and headed to the Metro. The trains were busy, security was thorough and the crowds were plentiful. My boys likened it to going to Disneyworld, and I agreed with that assessment – not only because of the lines and crowds, but because of the energy and excitement of the people. We were strangers, but we were already connected in our enthusiasm and hope for what was to come.
It all went rather seamlessly. We were about six people deep and could see a little of the street. My husband was monitoring the news events of the day and keeping us informed via text about what was happening. When the big moment approached, everyone held up cell phones, obstructing the view. I grabbed my eight year old and held him piggyback. My 11 year old is nearly as big as I am, but somehow, I managed to lift him up just in time, for just a moment. I was so focused on seeing their reactions; I just caught a glimpse of the back of Pope Francis’ head as he rolled by in the Popemobile. It was a glorious, exhilarating, stressful and amazing moment. My oldest son continued to jump up and down to see for as long as he could.
Waiting to get out of the crowds, we took a break to have some well-deserved ice cream, take some selfies and buy souvenirs for family. The boys were thrilled and very thankful for the experience. It took us a while to get home and by the time we did, we were all exhausted. We watched the Papal Mass cuddled up on the sofa, almost unbelieving that we actually saw the Pope earlier that day.
The DC locals were correct in warning me about the amount of time and hassle it would take to get into the city, but in the end, it was totally worth it. The next day the NCEA staff gathered to watch the Holy Father address Congress. Pope Francis’s inspiring words about the importance of mission and the example of St. Junipero Serra to always go forward, reinforced my sense of vocation and what a blessing it is to work in Catholic education. Our work is never finished and there is an awesome responsibility to provide a strong future for our children and the world. #blessed
NCEA is here to support you. If you did something special to celebrate the Papal visit to the US or the canonization of St. Junipero Serra, please share it with us at email@example.com.”