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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Experiencing the Canonizations
Br. Eric Gilhooly LC shares what it was like to be in Rome when Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were declared saints

Selfie with the popes
Offering visitors to Rome a "selfie" with the popes.

Following is the experience of Br. Eric Gilhooly LC about what he and his fellow Legion of Christ seminarians experienced on the 2014 Divine Mercy weekend in Rome.

On Friday, April 25th, about 130 of us from the Center for Higher Studies took the 1:46 train to St Peter’s.  No ordinary afternoon awaited us.  We carried fliers in different languages, a large wooden cross and some larger-than-life images of John Paul II and John XXIII.  We had a mission -- to prepare Rome for the canonizations!

We were based in a local parish about halfway between Castel Sant’Angelo and Piazza Navona.  At
Dancing Legion of Christ seminarians
Dancing Legion of Christ seminarians
3:00 pm, the parish priest blessed our mission crosses and off we went.  We split into many groups in the surrounding streets to engage the pilgrims in Rome in many creative ways. Our mission theme -- to share the joy of being Christian!

We had two music groups playing and singing different songs while others (myself included, getting over a severe cold) spoke with the many people who stopped in amazement to watch the young, happy (musical) priests.  We invited them to go to the parish, Salvatore in Lauro, where there were the following activities: confessions in many different languages; the
Dancing seminarians in the press
Dancing seminarians get some media coverage.
relics of both saints-to-be for veneration; evening Mass followed by adoration with music and directed prayer in different languages; and Benediction at 10:30 pm.  All of us promoted these activities in our various groups. It was really a beautiful experience helping people prepare for the canonizations, often times with a smile or simply just being there for others.  There were so many moments of grace.

Other of our groups carried around the huge images of the two popes, offering a “selfie” with a saint!  Later in the afternoon, I joined one of two groups with large wooden crosses.  As people passed
Musical Legion of Christ seminarians
Musical seminarians get more press coverage.
by we invited them to write down any intention in their hearts and nail it to the cross.  We then brought the crosses to the Church to pray for those intentions.  I met people from Germany, Spain, Mexico, the US, and, of course, Poland!

Another group set up a foot-tennis field right outside the parish, challenging all comers to play, and after the game inviting them into the Church for prayer.  (As I understand, our group was never beaten!)

After Benediction, we headed back to the train station, singing and chanting all the way.
On Saturday, there was more of the same,
Seminarians playing foot tennis in Rome
Seminarians playing foot tennis with friends.
but with more of us participating, and with a Eucharistic procession in the afternoon.  Getting from the train station to the Church took us over an hour.  We kept stopping to sing (and dance a little).  As St Francis said, “Preach always, and if necessary use words!”

It’s so hard to describe the atmosphere with just words, so I invite you to take a look at this video that says more than I ever could.  God bless you!



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