February 26, 2016
On one of his stops during his recent visit to Mexico, Pope Francis encouraged the priests, men and women religious, consecrated people and seminarians of the country to take God’s mercy and salvation to the world.
Pope Francis told them the Christian faith is not a matter for the intellect alone or something that occupies a few hours each day or each week. It is about one’s life.
Among the 20,000 church workers in the stadium at Morelia, Mexico, listening to the pope’s words, were the four Sisters of the Mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who serve at the Sagrado Corazon Hispanic Ministry Center in Nashville.
Fifty-five sisters in their congregation, which has its motherhouse in Parral, Mexico, traveled 16 hours to Morelia to attend the papal Mass. When the pope entered the stadium before the Mass, he passed about 10 feet from them.
As the pope passed by they were so excited, Sister Maria de Jesus, S.H., said through a translator, Elizabeth Baggett. The pope turned to them and blessed them, she added.
The pope was greeted by a stadium full of priests and religious singing with gusto and chanting papal cheers while jumping up and down or doing the wave.
But it was pope’s message that resonated most deeply with the sisters.
The pope’s urging to share God in all they do will help them in their work in the Diocese of Nashville, said Sister Maria Bibiana, S.H. The message will help her renew her life as a woman religious, she said.
The pope also encouraged the priests and religious of Mexico, who often risk their lives by standing up to the nation’s drug lords and urging their faithful to do the same, not to let the death and violence around them lead to resignation, “A resignation that paralyzes us and prevents us not only from walking, but also from making the journey.”
Pope Francis was welcomed to Morelia with the largest crowds of his Mexico trip, which began Feb. 12. Thousands of people – standing five and six deep – lined miles of roadway leading to the stadium.
The people of Morelia, which is located near the geographic center of Mexico and is the capital of Michoacan state, were so excited because St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI hadn’t visited their city on previous papal trips to Mexico, one of the most Catholic countries in the world, said Sister Anna Maria, S.H.
It was one of several visits Pope Francis made to places and people that hadn’t been visited by a pope before, including celebrating Mass with the indigenous people in the south of the country and in Juarez on the Mexican-U.S. border.
The pope went to places in Mexico where there are problems, such as poverty, violence, drug trafficking and discrimination, Sister Bibiana said. “He went to Mexico because he knows what’s going on in Mexico right now.”
The people of Mexico were looking to the pope in hope that he might spark changes in the country, Sister Anna Maria said. Though the pope inspires people, they know the pope can’t solve Mexico’s problems by himself, she added; the people must create change for themselves.
While all the papal visits to Mexico have been good, said Sister Anna Maria, “This pope is something special. He acts close to the people.”
The pope is so inspiring because he lives what he talks about, she added.
The sisters’ congregation is making a video about the papal trip that they plan to distribute among the people at Sagrado Corazon and the many other parishes in the Diocese of Nashville where they serve, Sister Maria de Jesus said.
Before the sisters left for Mexico, the people in Tennessee were so excited because the sisters were representing the people in Nashville, Sister Maria de Jesus said.
After they returned, said Sister Anna Maria, “everybody said hug me because you have been blessed by the pope.”