6 Hopes for Pope Francis’s visit
Springfield Dominican Sisters – wherever we are in the nation – will be especially attentive to what’s happening in Washington, DC, next week. Two of our sisters are guests of members of Congress and will watch Pope Francis from the gallery in the House of Representatives that day. Two other sisters will attend the Papal Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday.
So, we are excited enough as we await the big events next week. It is also a time for reflection, introspection, and prayer. It is nice that Pope Francis is coming to America. We are happy that he is coming. And like many American Catholics we are enjoying the spotlight on our church, our faith, and our mission of service to God’s people as we wait for the touchdown of “Shepherd One” at Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday afternoon.
For what do we hope? We Springfield Dominicans, like sisters of many other orders, have given decades of service to the people of God. So, from the perspective of our ministries, here are the things that we will be listening for when Pope Francis speaks in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia next week:
- We teach English literacy skills and citizenship to immigrant women and we know the suffering of immigrants who live in the shadows and are taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers. We hope for a message of compassionate immigration reform;
- We have accompanied our Iraqi Dominican sisters and brothers through 15 years of sanctions war, trauma, displacement, religious persecution, and genocide. We hope for a call from Pope Francis to end conflict peacefully, protect the rights of the most vulnerable victims of violence, and welcome into our nation tens of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian refugees.
- We accompany families of all kinds in the schools, health care facilities, and parishes where we serve. We hope for a gentle message of mercy and care from the pope that can take root in the hearts of the pastoral leaders of the U.S. Church.
- We are classroom teachers and pastoral ministers; we long for a safer, more just world for people of color, children and adults, who suffer under the shadow of institutionalized racism, who face lower wages, higher costs, and poorer health. We hope Pope Francis will address the need to transform social and economic systems that continue to oppress – 150 years after the Civil War – so that white America is freed from slavery to prejudice and greed.
- We are citizens of the universe and care for a 110 acre sanctuary and ecological center called Jubilee Farm; we hope the Holy Father will help U.S. political leaders and citizens shake free from complacency and act quickly to heal the wounds of our planet.
- We hope most of all, that when Pope Francis leaves the U.S. on Sunday night, he leaves behind a Church and a nation, and a congregation of Dominican Sisters in Springfield, Ill., inspired, in the words of our own commitment statement, “to stand with the poor, to accompany those on the margins, and to work toward systems that promote life.”