EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Barbara Fitzgerald, coordinator of Religious Education for St. Bartholomew's Church in East Brunswick, described the week of Pope Francis' visit to the United States as, "Awesome. It was validating to us as a community of Catholics. Seeing all of the culturally different people was eye-opening and exciting."
Fitzgerald added that the message of the Pope was the same as the mission of St. Bart's to "reach out to the marginalized." Fitzgerald was one of many parishioners at St. Bart's who met for a communal viewing of the closing liturgy of the Eighth World Meeting of Families.
Some parishoners left East Brunswick at 7 a.m. to attend the Mass, while othered shared the experience at home. Pastor Tom Walsh gave each student at St. Bart's Elementary School yellow bands that bore the words, "Love. Mercy. Charity."
Following a visit to St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia where he dedicated a Catholic/Jewish unity monument, Pope Francis spoke about lives that could be full of "little miracles." He stressed that "our common home cannot tolerate harsh divisions." He reiterated his premise that "faith grows when it is shaped by love."
Ruth Joyce, also a parishioner, said that her visit to Central Park in New York to see the Pope was "well worth the wait." She noted that, "The people were amazing. On every side of us, people were speaking a different language. By the end, we were all taking pictures together like we were one big family."
By the end, then, it seems that the mission was accomplished.