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

November 6, 2019 ­— Nicole Walters' first experience of Imaginative Prayer led to a profound encounter with God.

November 5, 2019 — Today we remember the Jesuits Saints and Blessed who have lived Ignatian values in inspirational ways.

November 4, 2019 — Jesuit organizations from across the world are gathering in Rome this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat.

October 31, 2019 — Today is the feast of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ, patron saint of Jesuit brothers.

October 30, 2019 — Fr. Laramie, a campus minister and author, fills in the blanks to give us a deeper insight into his life and vocation.

October 25, 2019 — Clarissa Aljentera prays the Examen with her son because she wants him to learn that sometimes the most impactful moments of God are small moments in the day.

October 24, 2019 — Fr. Joseph O’Keefe, SJ, is appointed the first provincial for the Jesuits USA East Province. He will assume office on July 31, 2020.

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 10/14/19

America 9/30/19

America 9/16/19



Creighton University Retreat Center
Located 45 miles east of Omaha, Neb., in rural Iowa, the Creighton University Retreat Center is situated on 154 wooded acres on the Nishnabotna River.