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Bermudian in US gets glimpse of the Pope

Spreading his blessings: Pope Francis passes New York’s Central Park as part of a visit to the United States(Photograph by Gary Wyssling)

A Bermudian living in the United States was one of the tens of thousands of people who filled New York’s Central Park for a glimpse of Pope Francis on Friday.

While Susan Gibbons said her encounter with the Pope was momentary, the experience of the event was incredible.

“Those people who stood with strangers and waited for hours waiting to see a glimpse of the Pope became small communities of hope, peace and love to all,” she said.

“We left with a renewed hope that the world would be a better place. We hugged, kissed and shared phone numbers to share photos. Not sure who else could have created this amazing healing among people.

“This man is changing history for the Catholic Church and mankind. Let us continue to pray for the world where religion and politics often become entangled.”

Mrs Gibbons, who lives in Long Island, said the trip came about after an old friend won seats at the event, which took place at Central Park.

“I have a friend here now who I went to Mount Saint Agnes with, Joann Martin, and there was a lottery,” she said. “They were going to pick 80,000 people. She sent out and she got chosen, so she asked if I wanted to go with her. She felt both her and I needed blessings.

“It didn’t matter what your race or religion was, or what political affiliation you were. They were all there to see this man. When everyone left, they were happy. Some were crying.”

While they were waiting for the Pope to pass, Mrs Gibbons said she was approached by ABC News anchor David Muir, who was interviewing members of the crowd.

“He was asking if there was one word to describe the Pope and what we felt about him,” she said. “I said the word ‘hope’.

“He’s authentic. He’s genuine. There’s a connection to the people. I would say that with the other Popes there has been a disconnect, but with this Pope I feel that there’s a connection, that he genuinely wants to be out there meeting with the people.”

Mrs Gibbons said that she and her friends waited at the park for around four hours waiting for the Pope and talking with others in the area. Security was heavy, with people with binoculars looking over nearby buildings for potential threats and several streets blocked off. While she said her glimpse of Pope Francis was brief — lasting only around 15 seconds — she said she was fortunate to get a good view as he passed around ten feet from her group.

“A lot of people who were in there were sitting down for a long time,” she said. “I was right up at the barrier with an elderly lady, helping her stand up.

“It was an amazing, amazing event. It was just unbelievable. I was talking to a friend and it was clear to both of us that people were there from all walks of life. I don’t think the President could have gotten the same response.”