In Journalism, being at the right place at the right time is essential. If you’re not, you will most likely miss vital pieces of information. But if the place where you currently are becomes the place to be, then you have a birds eye view and not to mention the inside scoop of a story.
I had one of these moments last Wednesday when I was in New York City visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I had the chance to intern in New York City last summer, so St. Patrick’s became my parish and a place that I came to know extremely well. Whenever I am in the city, it is just one of the places that I have to visit, but last week’s walk through soon became a momentous one.
I had been in St. Patrick’s earlier that morning with a friend who had never been there, and somehow did not catch the news that the conclave was meeting that day. I had a meeting with someone just three blocks away, so I stayed in the area. When the white smoke appeared, I was in a nearby Chipotle on my phone and saw someone’s Facebook status about it. The first thought that came to my mind was “drop everything and run over to St. Patrick’s,” so I did.
When I arrived, I did not expect to see the crowd that was there, but there it was at the front of the church surrounding a 20 inch television. I somehow managed to push my way to the front of the group where there were literally five cameras zooming in on us. The New York Times, CNN, and NBC News were all there along with many others.I remember one reporter said, “These are the types of days that we live for” while he was interviewing people. As a fellow journalist, I could not agree more.
Being both a Catholic and a Journalist on this day and in this environment was both extremely memorable and educational. It is not very often that you can observe the professional media doing their jobs in such close proximity. From where I was in the crowd, I could see reporters swarming the crowd for people willing to talk. Multiple people in the crowd happily wept as Pope Francis spoke to Catholics around the world for the first time while the cameras zoomed in on them while others watched with excited expressions. One image that sticks out in my mind is a group of about six women around my my age from Argentina who are preparing themselves to take their vows to enter the convent listening to a live telecast on their phone.
The image of this group of faithful women crowded around an Iphone to hear the new Pope’s words, who were just standing across the crowd from me, was included in articles on CNN, The Boston Herald, and multiple other publications. Actually being there in person to witness it, however, was so much more memorable.
As someone who is from a very traditional Catholic upbringing, the election of Pope Francis is an exciting new chapter for us. Growing up during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, we were spoiled with a Pope that was not only a people person, but had a special place in his heart for the youth. I believe that Pope Francis is made of the same cloth, and will truly be a breath of fresh air in the church. Seeing a new Pope be elected is considered a special experience in itself, but being able to witness his election in such a place as St. Patrick’s will always be something I look back on and say, “I remember where I was.”