News Detail
Fr. Pat Conroy, SJ, blesses Pope Francis before his address to Congress.
Fr. Pat Conroy, SJ, Reflects on Blessing Pope Francis

October 14, 2015 — Oregon Province Jesuit Father Pat Conroy has been the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives for four years. Before Pope Francis' historic address to Congress last month, Fr. Conroy got to meet briefly with the pope and wrote the following reflection on the experience: 

September 24 was a historic day at the U.S. Capitol. Pope Francis, on a highly-scheduled visit, arrived in his black Fiat at the carriage entrance on the House side of the building. Met by both Sergeants at Arms of the House and Senate, Francis was escorted into the hall and introduced first to the Senate Chaplain, Rev. Barry Black, and then his brother Jesuit, the Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives. That would be me.

Knowing of the tight schedule, I figured I had all of 20, at most 30 seconds with Francis. So instead of trying to have a meaningful conversation in Spanish, which would not have gone well nor yielded any intelligible exchange, I asked him if I might bless him.

Personally, it is not hard to be humbled by such an experience. I had done nothing, accomplished nothing, which led to my serving as Chaplain to the House, other than apply for this position at the request of my provincial superior. The Chaplain’s Office is not one that ought to be ambitioned, in my opinion, and so I consider my ministry to be a blessing itself.

The events that followed were equally historic. After a short stop at the beautiful statue of St. Damien of Moloka’i, Francis was led to a short meeting with congressional leadership, with whom he shared a short prayer. Then it was on to the House floor, where a joint session of Congress was gathered to hear his address. In the gallery were the guests, one each, of Members of the House of Representatives.

I say historic — it was the first time a pope was to address the U.S. Congress. That’s enough. But what was also historic was the feeling of good will and spirit possessed by all those in attendance. The very presence of the man seemed to lift the spirits of all those gathered.

In the wake of the pope’s visit, many photos of my encounter with Francis have been seen on screen, mostly on Facebook. It is an ongoing blessing to have met Pope Francis, as so many people who have blessed my ministry through so many years now feel just a little more connected to a great pontiff — a priest who would build bridges where people and nations are separated from one another, sometimes seemingly without hope of reconciliation.

May we all, as he so often asks, continue to pray for Pope Francis and his vocation from God to serve as the Vicar of Christ. 

The Vatican’s photographic record of the Congressional visit can be found at www.photovat.com.





Recent News

April 18, 2018 — Fr. Stephen A. Privett, SJ, has been appointed president of Verbum Dei High School, which provides its South Central Los Angeles students a rigorous college prep curriculum.

April 16, 2018 — In honor of Emancipation Day, Georgetown University celebrated the legacies of Anne Marie Becraft, a 19th-century African-American education pioneer.

April 12, 2018 — Fr. Erik Oland, SJ, becomes Provincial of the new Province on July 31.

April 11, 2018 — Father Roberto “Carlos” Durán, SJ, was ordained to the priesthood March 23 at the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador.

April 9, 2018 — Fr. Jeff Putthoff, SJ, will be the next president of Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis, effective July 1, 2018.

April 3, 2018 — Jesuits recall three times when he graced their universities.

March 30, 2018 — The Jesuits spoke in support of Felix Garcia, who is set to be deported next week.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 3/5/18

America 2/19/18

America 2/5/18



Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House
For those seeking to deepen their relationship with God, Sacred Heart Retreat House in Colorado is an oasis of peace.