Elms Campus Minister Reflects on Time in DC

Reflection by Lisa A. Covington - Campus Minister, Our Lady of the Elms
Reflection by Lisa A. Covington – Campus Minister, Our Lady of the Elms

Being a guest on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building was an incredible experience. Three Our Lady of the Elms students and I were in Washington, DC, on September 24, thanks to the kindness of Congressman Tim Ryan. Before the Pope’s address to Congress, the four of us were standing on the West Lawn talking with others. Elms student Regina McWilliams commented, “It was incredible to witness complete strangers openly talking to each other and praying with those around them whom they didn’t even know.” 

When Pope Francis spoke to the joint Congressional session, we could view the historic event on the jumbo-trons. Afterwards, Pope Francis appeared on the balcony of the Capitol Building and spoke for a few minutes to the crowd. He also gave a blessing, and gave remarks on the importance of children. 

As campus minister, what stood out for me during the Pope’s address to Congress is that he talked about how everyone, regardless of their faith backgrounds, has a responsibility to follow the Golden Rule. Pope Francis emphasized how we all need to do our part to make the world a better place. I also appreciated how he spoke of Dorothy Day as being a great American whose example we can follow. 

When Pope Francis appeared on the balcony, cheers came from the crowd gathered on the West Lawn. It was amazing to see how people reacted. Some near where I stood were moved to tears, especially when he mentioned children. Being there that day was an experience I will never forget. I’m also grateful that this experience was shared with three Elms girls. 

After the event, I talked with the three students. I learned that they all appreciated how Pope Francis talked about four American heroes during his speech. In addition to Dorothy Day, whom I mentioned above, Pope Francis also commented on the lives of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thomas Merton. The Elms students also appreciated how, according to McWilliams, “he said that young people are to be valued in our community and that they have the responsibility, as with the rest of the population, to be kind towards others and correct the injustices that our society has.”

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