Students witness end of historic tour in Philadelphia
Published: October 2, 2015
Arts & Life Editor
PHILADELPHIA — Showing his infectious smile and demonstrating acts of kindness at every turn, Pope Francis came to the U.S. this weekend and left a mark on the nation.
The pope traveled from Washington, D.C. to New York to Philadelphia during his journey in the U.S., and his appearance was the source of widespread attention throughout the country. Most media outlets covered the majority of his visit, showing speeches, masses and the various places he visited.
The pope traveled to Philadelphia, where he was received by large crowds of people who traveled from around the country and the world to see him Saturday.
He discussed immigration and religious freedom at Independence Hall.
“One of the highlights of my visit is to be here at Independence Hall. The birthplace of the United States Of America,” the pope said.
During his speech, Pope Francis discussed the significance of religious freedom in the U.S.
“In this place, which is symbolic of the American way of – the model of the United States, I would like to reflect with you on the right to religious freedom,” the pope said, receiving applause from the audience.
“It is a fundamental right which shapes the way we interact socially and personally with our neighbors is – whose religious views differ from our own.”
Amanda Stahl, a 2014 graduate of The University, participated in the festivities in Philadelphia during the weekend. Stahl served as a volunteer at the Leahy Community Health and Family Center during her time at The University.
Stahl had the opportunity to hear the pope speak about immigration at LOVE Park on Saturday.
“The idea of the pope addressing our current immigration policy was really important to me, having met quite a few people who were immigrants, both legal and illegal in my time at Leahy,” Stahl said.
In speaking about her experience in Philadelphia and about the impact of the pope on the atmosphere around her, Stahl said that she felt that the pope radiated kindness and thoughtfulness.
“The best word I have for it is joyful. His energy is extraordinary,” Stahl said.
Stahl volunteered on Sunday, helping with security procedures. She expressed that the crowd was happy, motivated and excited to be a part of the experience, and many were waving flags from different countries.
“I don’t even know how to estimate the thousands of people that must have passed through my line,” Stahl said.
“We were chanting, ‘Viva El Papa! Viva El Papa! We love Francis!’ ”
Jackie Stash, a junior majoring in chemistry at The University, was also a part of the experience on Sunday in Philadelphia.
Stash traveled to Philadelphia from Scranton with a parish group through the Diocese of Scranton.
While Stash was not able to see Pope Francis himself, she did experience the atmosphere and the excitement of the crowds.
“The lines were so long. We were a block away from the security checkpoints and it took five hours to get through,” Stash said.
She emphasized that the people around her were generally happy and excited to be part of the experience of the pope’s visit.
“Everyone was pleasant and cheerful and in a really good mood…Overall, I think people were just really happy to be there,” Stash said.
The pope’s visit to the U.S. left a huge impact on not only the areas he visited, but on the nation as a whole. His presence was well received, along with his infectious smile and genuine nature.