News
Fr. Pat Conroy blesses Pope Francis before his address to Congress.
Fr. Pat Conroy reflects on blessing the Pope

Oregon Jesuit Fr. Pat Conroy, SJ, 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 houses of Congress, Francis was escorted into the hall and introduced first to the Senate Chaplain, Rev. Barry Black, and then to 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 and ministries 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: http://www.photovat.com.





Recent News

May 21, 2020 - Nativity Preparatory School in Boston has announced that Mr. Gadisa Goso has been named the next principal effective for the 2020-2021 academic year. Mr. Goso is member of Nativity Prep's class of 1997 and previously taught at Nativity.

May 19, 2020 — A new report released today from Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and the Jesuit Conference brings to life the real and often heart breaking consequences of US asylum policies.

May 18, 2020 — May marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of Laudato Si’. Through this landmark encyclical, Pope Francis called the Church and all people to transform our relationship with creation.

Dr. Joseph Sclafani, a member of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps in New York, is part of a team tasked with transcribing the diaries of Dorothy Day.

May 13, 2020 - Fr. Daniel Lahart, SJ, president of Regis High School recently asked one of the school’s alumni, Dr. Anthony Fauci, class of ’58, to record a video for the Jesuit graduates of 2020.

May 12, 2020 - Susan Baber has been named the Associate Provincial Assistant for Secondary Education for the new USA East Jesuit Province. The new province will come into being on July 31, Susan will assume this new role in August.

Fr. Dennis E. McNally, SJ, beloved painter and professor of fine arts at Saint Joseph’s University, dies at 76.

view all news

Search news







Eastern Point Retreat House
Eastern Point Retreat House, a grand house located on the Atlantic shore in Gloucester, Mass., has been welcoming retreatants since 1958.