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Pope’s message during U.S. visit didn’t require words

Wall-to-wall coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States took that experience well beyond the cities he visited and the millions of people who somehow managed to see him in person, even if from some distance.

Whether on television or online, people around the world – Catholics, non-Catholics, Christians and non-Christians – could share in almost every aspect of the trip. It seemed cameras were everywhere – at the airports for arrivals and departures, along motorcades, at each of the places the pope visited and where he stayed.

The broadcasts, of course, featured every homily and every public speech and reflection by the pope during his time in the United States. And Pope Francis had plenty to say. He talked about the need for the voice of faith to continue to be heard, he emphasized the sacredness of life at all stages, he called for abolishment of the death penalty, he discussed outreach to the poor, he touted the love and power of the family, he encouraged prayer and an openness to the Holy Spirit.

Of course, the experts were weighing in – sometimes while the pope was still speaking – to offer analysis of his words. They talked about what he said, what he didn’t say and perhaps even what they thought he meant to say.

While some analysis is helpful as Catholics try to put the pope’s comments into a faith perspective, sometimes it’s a matter of taking his words at face value, counting on his ability to say what he means without some added interpretation.

Perhaps, too, it’s just a matter of sitting back and enjoying the pope’s spiritual presence, which often seemed to overshadow his words – even through television or the Internet. That presence, that power of the Spirit shared through the pope might be his greatest gift.

A man of the Spirit, his presence and his actions call each of us to that same faith journey – to live in and be guided by the Spirit in all we do.

No analysis is required … just an open heart.



While the pope was on the East Coast for his visit, my wife, Pamela, and I were blessed with a journey of our own here in the archdiocese.

We were guests of Father Bill L’Heureux at the three parishes he serves – St. Lawrence in Silver Creek, St. Rose of Lima in Genoa and Ss. Peter and Paul of Krakow.

While I was asked to speak about the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, Father L’Heureux also gave me the opportunity to assist at Mass and preach at each of the four Masses – two at St. Rose and one each at St. Lawrence and Ss. Peter and Paul.

But this journey wasn’t so much about what I shared with the good folks in these parishes, but what they shared through their presence, their involvement in and support of these parishes and their welcoming attitude to a deacon and his wife from Omaha.

The distinctive church buildings of each parish – all beautiful houses of worship – provide a timeline of sorts over the years, from the more than 100-year-old Ss. Peter and Paul wood frame structure, to the traditional stone church/rectory complex dedicated at St. Rose in 1952 to the modern (1960s vintage) church design for St. Lawrence.

Parishes, however, aren’t about buildings, but people. And the folks at these three parishes represent the best in the church, sharing a rock-solid faith, guided by the values of rural Nebraska and anchored in a strong community and ethnic history.


Deacon Randy Grosse is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice. Contact him at

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