After the election of Pope Francis, a crowd of enthusiastic young Catholics gathered in Denver Wednesday afternoon to show their support with prayers and lively chants.
“We have a Pope...his name is Francis,” chanted the crowd of around 100 people.
“He rides the bus ... he's one of us,” they said, referring to Pope Francis' reputation for taking public transportation as a cardinal.
The songs and shouts mixed English-and Spanish-language chants with the Italian phrase “Viva il Papa” – “Long live the Pope.”
Amid the boisterous joy, rally attendees also prayed solemn prayers for Pope Francis and the success of his papacy.
The event took place March 13 on Lincoln Boulevard, a busy street west of the Colorado capitol. It was part of the Rally for the Pope, a Denver-based initiative with counterparts in several other cities around the U.S. and the world.
Some carried banners and wore t-shirts that said “Habemus Papam” – Latin for “we have a Pope.” Other signs said “Denver loves Pope Francis.” A few people waved with vigor the yellow and white flags of the Holy See.
One of the most energetic rally leaders was Brigid DeMoor, who led the crowd in cheers when she wasn’t busy looking after her six-month-old son Joseph.
“The greatest gift I’ve ever been given is my Catholic faith. And today we received our new leader, the new vicar of Christ Pope Francis,” DeMoor told CNA.
“I’m so grateful to have a fearless leader who is a man of integrity rooted in truth, who will lead us with a humble heart in the next new millennium.”
DeMoor’s husband Seth launched the website RallyforthePope.com and a special Twitter hashtag #rallyforthePope to help coordinate the celebrations for the papal election. Seth was on a plane when Pope Francis emerged from the balcony and couldn't attend the rally.
The crowd included young families, young adults, three Dominican sisters and several consecrated laywomen of the Marian Community of Reconciliation.
John O'Brien, a pastoral associate at the south Denver parish Our Lady of Lourdes, hosted the event.
“It’s just a great celebration,” O’Brien said, praising the turnout as “awesome.”
“The reason why we’re gathered here is to show that there’s a whole generation of youth that we’re representing that is very excited that Pope Francis has been elected and that we stand with him,” he said.
“We’re celebrating his election. We’re standing with him and the teachings of the Church.”
Some drivers of passing cars agreed and honked their horns in support.
Tess Stone, an events coordinator for the Archdiocese of Denver, held a sign that read “Pope Francis, we love you!”
She said she attended the rally out of excitement for the new Pope and out of a desire “to show my love and support and unity for the whole Church.”
“He’s a new shepherd and the leader of the Church and so we look to him for guidance and pray for him,” Stone told CNA. “I can’t wait to get to know him better and give him my full support.”
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver also gave his support to the rally. J.D. Flynn, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Denver, used a bullhorn to read the crowd a special message from the archbishop.
“Praise God for the great gift of His Holiness Pope Francis. Thank you all for being here. Thank you for your witness,” Archbishop Aquila’s message said.
“Dear sons and daughters, Pope Francis is called to greatness. So are you,” he continued. “Join me in the call of Pope Francis for the New Evangelization. Join me in becoming the saints of the new Millennium. I am proud of you.”
Flynn also led the crowd in prayers. After 40 minutes of rallying, the group formed a long procession to the nearby Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
They walked the three blocks with their flags and banners, causing smiles and curious glances among passersby.
Cathedral rector Monsignor Thomas Fryar celebrated an evening Mass for the rally participants and for all Catholics who wanted to give thanks for the papal election.
He apologized for the absence of Archbishop Aquila, who had hoped to celebrate the thanksgiving Mass after the rally.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think anybody was expecting a Pope this fast,” Msgr. Fryar said in his homily, which reflected on the papal election.
“For 2,000 years the successor of St. Peter served as the rock, the visible source of the foundation of unity in the life of the Church,” he told the congregation.
“Today Pope Francis has taken up the keys to the kingdom. His leadership, his values, and his friendship with Jesus Christ will guide the rest of the disciples for years to come.”
Tags: Pope Francis