The East coast was has been abuzz this week over Pope Francis' first U.S. visit.
first stop was Washington, D.C., where he was greeted on the tarmac by President Obama, the First Lady, and daughters Sasha and Malia.https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/646675500396625920 https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/646794047219068929
On Thursday (Sept. 24), he addressed Congress, bringing several representatives to tears during his lengthy and touching speech on equality, immigration, politics, and the vulnerability of today's young people. Thousands of visitors stood outside, falling silent as the Pope began speaking on the screens before them.
"Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives," he began. "You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics."https://twitter.com/WhiteHouse/status/646819113499815936
The most poignant part of his speech referenced the saddening refugee crisis overseas. Pope Francis implored everyone to treat them, first and foremost, as people.
"[We] must view them as persons, seeing their faces, and listening to their stories," he said.
While in D.C., Pope Francis humbly declinedhaving
lunch with a gathering of politicians, opting instead to dine with some of the city's homeless after giving a speech at St. Patrick's Catholic Church.
“I want to be very clear. We can’t find any social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever for lack of housing. We know that Jesus wanted to show solidarity with every person. He wanted everyone to experience his companionship, his help and his love. He identified with all those who suffer, who weep, who suffer any kind of injustice," he told those in attendance.
The individuals he ate with were beneficiaries of the St. Maria's Meals program, run by Catholic Charities. The program provides hot meals once a week for D.C.'s homeless.
The Pope's next stop was my home, New York City,
He addressed the United Nations on Friday morning (Sept. 25), continuing his message that officials have the duty to promote peace among all human beings. He discussed the environment, basic human rights, and the controversial nuclear agreement with Iran, among other vital topics.https://twitter.com/UNICEF/status/647416016255995904
His parting words: "The praiseworthy international juridical framework of the United Nations Organization and of all its activities, like any other human endeavor, can be improved, yet it remains necessary; at the same time it can be the pledge of a secure and happy future for future generations. And so itwill,
if the representatives of the States can set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good.... Upon all of you, and the peoples you represent, I invoke the blessing of theMost High
, and all peace and prosperity."
He then led a prayer ceremony at the 9/11 memorial, meeting with families of the 3,000 victims honored at the site.
From there, he visited Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, spending some time with the lucky students, who were able to interact one-on-one with one of the most revered religious figures in the world.
Thousands of New Yorkers won tickets through a state-wide lottery to his next appearance, a parade through Central Park.
His final New York stop was Madison Square Garden, where he led a televised Mass for about 18,000 attendees.
He concluded his visit in Philadelphia last weekend, attending the World Meeting of Families and holding one final Mass before heading back to Italy on Sunday night (Sept. 27).
"[Little gestures] get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children and siblings," Pope Francis said during the Mass.
Much like during his other visits, the crowds gathered for him cheered as he approached but fell respectfully silent when he began speaking.
It's safe to say that his 3-day tour left quite the impression. Will his messages of peace take hold? Only time will tell.
Do you have any memorable moments from the Pope's tour of the East Coast? Share them with us in the comments!