News
Fr. Pat Conroy blesses Pope Francis before his address to Congress.
Fr. Pat Conroy reflects on blessing the Pope

Oregon Jesuit Fr. Pat Conroy, SJ, has been the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives for four years. Before Pope Francis' historic address to Congress last month, Fr. Conroy got to meet briefly with the Pope, and wrote the following reflection on the experience: 

September 24 was a historic day at the U.S. Capitol.  Pope Francis, on a highly-scheduled visit, arrived in his black Fiat at the carriage entrance on the House side of the building.  Met by both Sergeants at Arms of the houses of Congress, Francis was escorted into the hall and introduced first to the Senate Chaplain, Rev. Barry Black, and then to his brother Jesuit, the Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives. That would be me.

Knowing of the tight schedule, I figured I had all of 20, at most 30 seconds with Francis.  So instead of trying to have a meaningful conversation in Spanish, which would not have gone well nor yielded any intelligible exchange, I asked him if I might bless him.

Personally, it is not hard to be humbled by such an experience.  I had done nothing, accomplished nothing, which led to my serving as Chaplain to the House, other than apply for this position at the request of my Provincial superior.  The Chaplain’s Office is not one that ought to be ambitioned, in my opinion, and so I consider my ministry to be a blessing itself.

The events that followed were equally historic.  After a short stop at the beautiful statue of St. Damien of Moloka’i, Francis was led to a short meeting with congressional leadership, with whom he shared a short prayer.  Then it was on to the House floor, where a joint session of Congress was gathered to hear his address.  In the gallery were the guests, one each, of Members of the House of Representatives.

I say historic - it was the first time a Pope was to address the U.S. Congress.  That’s enough.  But what was also historic was the feeling of good will and spirit possessed by all those in attendance. The very presence of the man seemed to lift the spirits of all those gathered.

In the wake of the pope’s visit, many photos of my encounter with Francis have been seen on screen, mostly on Facebook.  It is an ongoing blessing to have met Pope Francis, as so many people who have blessed my ministry through so many years and ministries now feel just a little more connected to a great pontiff – a priest who would build bridges where people and nations are separated from one another, sometimes seemingly without hope of reconciliation.

May we all, as he so often asks, continue to pray for Pope Francis and his vocation from God to serve as the Vicar of Christ. 

The Vatican’s photographic record of the Congressional visit can be found at: http://www.photovat.com.





Recent News

July 17 - Young people of the Antilles recieved a message from Pope Francis on Sunday, as they gather for the 6th Antilles Episcopal Conference Youth Assembly.

June 28, 2018 - Pope Francis will create 14 new cardinal from 11 countries during the Ordinary Public Consistory in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica Thursday evening, June 28.

June 20, 2018 - Pope Francis speaks out on behalf of migrant families and mothers separated from their children at the Mexican border, saying populism is not the answer to the world’s immigration problem.

June 15, 2018 - This year, the Jesuits West Province of the Society of Jesus chose to hold its Ordination Mass a mile from the U.S.-Mexico border.

June 14, 2018 - Rep. Juan Vargas read a letter on the U.S. House Floor by Jesuit West Provincial Fr. Scott Santarosa, SJ, calling for support for the peaceful negotiation of a solution to the crisis in Nicaragua and for respect for the physical safety of all Nicaraguans.

June 13, 2018 - Jesuits West is grateful to the William H. Hannon Foundation for being the first Foundation in Los Angeles to join the Provincial Circle with their gift of $400,000.

June 11, 2018 - Bishop of San Diego, Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy ordained on Saturday, June 9, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in San Ysidro, California, four Jesuit Priests: Fr. JT Tanner, SJ , Fr. Elías Puentes, SJ, Fr. Alejandro Báez-González, SJ, and Fr. Thomas Flowers, SJ.

view all news

Search news

Publications

Mission Magazine - Spring 2018

Mission Magazine - Fall 2017

Mission Magazine - Fall 2016


Companions
Summer, 2018

Companions
Fall, 2017

Update
Summer, 2017


Loyola Institute for Spirituality
Loyola Institute for Spirituality (LIS), founded in 1997, is located in Orange, CA. LIS provides many programs and services for individuals, parishes, and dioceses throughout Southern California and beyond.