Our Jesuit Pope: Grad reflects on Independence Hall address

By Christine Schaad, '09  |  Photos courtesy of Christine Schaad

I had the opportunity to attend Pope Francis’ speech at Independence Hall as well as the Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.

I saw John Paul II in Giants Stadium when I was in the third grade and Benedict XVI in Madrid for World Youth Day 2011, but something about this pope just feels different, and I was very excited in the weeks leading up the papal visit.

The Holy Father’s humility makes him approachable and allows everyday believers to feel a connection to the church hierarchy. I attended a Jesuit college and law school and studied abroad in Buenos Aires. Now this Jesuit, Argentine pope was visiting my city, and would be saying Mass in my neighborhood!

My family arrived at Independence Hall almost five hours early and sat down to wait. Before Pope Francis spoke, many dancers, musicians, and speakers shared their immigrant experiences.

A Sudanese woman had given birth imprisoned, in shackles, rather than renounce her faith.

An Israeli man who came to the US without his parents grew up to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

The governor and mayor expressed their excitement for this historic visit in the birthplace of our nation.

Standing on the steps of Independence Hall, Pope Francis pointed out that the “Quakers who founded Philadelphia were inspired by a profound evangelical sense of the dignity of each individual and the ideal of a community united by brotherly love… That sense of fraternal concern for the dignity of all, especially the weak and the vulnerable, became an essential part of the American spirit.”

Pope Francis’ comments regarding the concern for all of God’s children, especially the most vulnerable, echoed what I had learned at Loyola about serving as a woman for and with others.

The following day at Mass, Pope Francis encouraged us to use kind words and gestures within our own homes. It was very special to stand with my fiancé and imagine that someday we will raise our own children in the Catholic tradition.

Pope Francis’ visit made me proud to be a Philadelphian and also proud to be Jesuit educated.

Chrstine Schaad (second from left) graduated from Loyola in 2009 and Creighton Law in 2012.  She works in wealth management at The Glenmede Trust Company, N.A., in Philadelphia.

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