By Tanya Connor
Scott and Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, of the SS. Francis and Therese Catholic Worker House in Worcester, were rejoicing last Thursday.
Pope Francis had held up as a model Dorothy Day, foundress of the Catholic Worker movement, in his address to Congress that morning. And shown support for a Catholic Worker banner. And Mrs. Schaeffer-Duffy had seen him up close.
Mrs. Schaeffer-Duffy said she didn’t have a ticket to attend the Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, but she was standing nearby when the pope passed by – very close by. Just blocks from where her husband proposed to her years ago.
“He has a kind of shy, warm smile,” she said of the pope. “His eyes are very dark. … I spent a lot of time asking people why they were there. That was as much the experience as that brief but very clear view of the pope.
“We are an immigrant Church. We have people from all over the world worshipping together. I just love that.”
She said one woman told her, “Just to see him and be near him makes it all real.”
What is “it”?
“The whole experience of being Catholic.”
Mrs. Schaeffer-Duffy said she met an 80-year-old and an 86-year-old who had come with their parish. And parents with three young children. And ages in between, all colors and speaking different languages.
Well-dressed people filed in for Mass.
“We were pueblo,” Mrs. Schaeffer-Duffy said of the ordinary people standing outside the area where Mass was celebrated. “But a dedicated pueblo, there for hours.”
At one spot, Catholic Worker friends of hers were holding a banner which said, “Love your enemies,” and Pope Francis gave them a “thumbs up,” she said, adding, “They were excited about that.”
Thursday she and other Catholic Workers and “peace people” talked together after the pope’s address to Congress, she said. They were gathered near St. Patrick Church, where she and her husband were married, hoping to get a glimpse of the Holy Father. They were very excited he had talked about Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.
Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy, who didn’t go to Washington, was also excited about Pope Francis’ words about Dorothy Day, and said he hopes the pope advances her cause for canonization. And he rejoiced for the Trappists at St. Joseph Abbey in Spencer, who’ve supported SS. Francis and Therese House’s ministry to the poor, since the pope praised one of their own: Thomas Merton.
“I just got an e-mail that Dorothy Day is trending online now,” Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said. He said maybe people will find their local Catholic Worker house and ask what it’s about and what they can do.
“His personalist approach is exactly what Dorothy Day would want,” Mr. Schaeffery-Duffy said of Pope Francis. “The personalist believes that the individual has power and responsibility in the world.” They don’t ask the state to take responsibility; they ask what they can do. Like Pope Francis, who goes to meet with people.
“Whether it’s people on the right or the left, he will engage them personally,” he said.
“The Incarnation is the ultimate personalist example,” Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said, adding, “For Catholics, a God that is present to us in the Eucharist every day.”
– To see photos and videos posted by local people who attended parts of the papal visit in Philadelphia, New York or Washington, D.C., visit and Like our page: www.Facebook.com/woopope. From your Twitter account you can also find local Tweets by searching for #woopope. (If you were there and you didn’t get a chance to post your pictures, there is still time to do so. Encourage your friends to look at the papal excitement online.)