I, like many others, was fortunate (and adventurous) enough to see Pope Francis in Philadelphia on Sunday. Yes, there was a lot of excitement and hoopla, and yes, I got caught up in it. But I am overwhelmed still, the morning after, when I stop to think about the experience, or talk about it with others, because it was so much more than what I expected for reasons I never would have anticipated. First, there was the mere fact that we (and I believe the other million or so people) arrived in Philly, gathered for Mass, and then departed and arrived home again smoothly, safely and peacefully. As the Pope said in his homily, the gathering of so many faithful in the city was truly a “miracle.” (I have to mention this group of five college-age girls next to us who were so fun to watch because they were so excited – and I was humbled and proud of them when they knelt – on the concrete – during the Eucharistic prayer.) Second, to witness communion being distributed and received by so many gathered was truly awe-inspiring. My husband and I were originally disappointed because we didn’t make it through one of the checkpoints in time to get into the designated mass area, but then happy to get close enough to see the Pope ride by from a distance and stop at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on the corner (and clap with the many out of sheer excitement he was so close!) Still, we were pretty sure we wouldn’t get communion being so far removed. And then…priests carrying yellow and white umbrellas (communion station designation umbrellas) started parading down the parkway toward us, stopping along the way, getting closer and closer…and to see and hear the people react (“I think we’re actually going to get the Eucharist!” the girls exclaimed) and then to hold out my hand and receive communion – consecrated by the Pope – literally made me weep with overwhelming joy and gratitude. Last (but not least), the Pope’s homily made me also cry – tears of humility when he said we must serve others in the little ways like Christ speaks of in the Gospel that was read: “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:41 ) – and gratitude that by my side was my husband who so faithfully and humbly does this for me every day (he always makes the coffee, cleans, does laundry while I’m busy doing my writing, etc.) And how being of service and talking kindly to each other within our family is so important. I got home that evening and even though I was exhausted, I called my three children who live away from home to ask how they were doing and when I could see them next (and actually talked to two of them!). Thank you Pope Francis, and thank you God for reminding me to be of service, that our families are so important, that I am one among many yet together we are one body, and for making me proud to be Catholic and hopeful that the church is very much alive and well!