Habemus Papam

Those words never sounded so great!

So much to process over the last few days. So little time to think. Trying to soak it all in and live in the moment, but also trying to share our journey with you.

For now, a few thoughts from last night.

We were cold. We were hungry. We were tired. We were wet. Many were hoping for black smoke just so we could go and eat and come back in the morning.

But, when the white smoke started to pour from the chimney, we were no longer cold, we were no longer hungry, we were full of energy, and this is the best part… The rain stopped – so we both symbolically and literally put away the umbrellas. Could not have been scripted any better!

Your humble traveler and the white smoke!

Your humble traveler and the white smoke!

And the bells! I can’t even describe how they sounded and made me feel.

When they turned on the loggia lights, the crowd went crazy. We could see movement in the hallway. Who was it going to be?

Then, Habemus Papam!

Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Wait, who?

Francis? – What?

Cell service was completely blocked. Surely the viewers back home knew more than us.

Then he came out. At first he looked scared – I can’t even imagine the feeling. I panic when I first set eyes on my groups. I think, “I am completely responsible for this group of 30 people for the next week.” Can you imagine what it must be like to walk out and see 100,000+ people, knowing there are another one billion out there, who are now looking to you?

Then he opens with a joke? That was great!

Then prays in Italian instead of Latin.

Then takes the mic to tell us to go to bed.

We in the square were still saying, “who?”

As we left the square for dinner (finally), the phones started working again and we were able to find out just who was this Francesco.

But it really wasn’t until Lino Rulli joined us at dinner after doing four hours straight of radio(!) that he was able to better explain to us who was our new pope.

In the few interviews I did, I explained the pope I wanted.

I wanted someone who was Christ-like in his own life.
— It doesn’t take much research to see this is a very holy man.

I wanted someone humble.
— The guy lives in a simple apartment and takes the bus to work.

I wanted someone who could get around and be active.
— He’s 76, but he’s already traveled across Rome, on his first day! That’s a good sign.

But, as I lifted from the priest on my trip, Fr. Jim Chern, I knew God would provide for us the Holy Father we needed for this time and this generation.

Pope Francis is exactly the pope I wanted, and I’m looking forward to getting to know him through the eyes of my travelers.

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