2015-09-30 / Religious News

Philipstown Residents Blessed By Visit

By Virginia Califano

As Pope Francis made his way through Central Park on Friday afternoon, crowds of people waved and raised their cameras for pictures. 
Tina Barile As Pope Francis made his way through Central Park on Friday afternoon, crowds of people waved and raised their cameras for pictures. Tina Barile Among the thousands who flooded America’s largest cities to witness Pope Francis’s historic first visit to the United States were several Philipstown residents. Each journey was surrounded with anticipation, excitement, and a longing for holiness.

Joe Ramos of Cold Spring, a lifelong Catholic, has witnessed a papal visit before, having seen Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict when they came to the United States. But his thirst for the divine remains unquenchable, so when he won two of the eight tickets from Our Lady of Loretto Catholic Church to see Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden, he and his wife Miriam considered it a huge blessing.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, even though I’ve seen Popes before,” Ramos said. “It changes you.”

The long wait on line to the Garden -- from 7th Avenue down to 23rd Street, which made a right to 8th Avenue, and back around to 28th Street, was “totally worth it.”

Frances and Ed Murphy of Cold Spring, who also won the Loretto lottery, considered it a small miracle that they did not have to wait in line to enter the Garden. “We were in in ten minutes… the Holy Spirit was looking out for [us],” Frances Murphy said.

She spent her time in the venue observing all the priests at every corner “in a folding chair with another chair next to [them] for confession.”

While Ramos was on line by the Garden on Friday, Tina Barile of Cold Spring was anxiously awaiting Pope Francis in Central Park. Barile reflected that even being there was a “miracle,” as she heard on short notice that she may be able to attend. She was unsure if she would be able to leave work at the Romeo and Juliet Salon in Cold Spring on a Friday, but everything came together.

Excitable chatter amongst the crowds throughout the city made the wait fulfilling for both Barile and Ramos. And the wait was full of divine surprises.

“When I was on 23rd Street, I looked up and saw a rainbow!” Ramos exclaimed.

“Sometimes it looked like a cross,” said Barile of the little miracle.

Down in Philadelphia, Garrison resident Mary Ellen Yannitelli and her daughter Aubrey described the excitement surrounding Pope Francis’s visit as “palpable” for those of all ages at The Festival of Families on Saturday. While waiting for his arrival, they passed the time by praying, and even doing “the wave.”

The leader of the Catholics and God’s representative on Earth, the Pope’s words inspire those who believe in him, and it is these messages wrapped in holiness that attract people.

“We waited for five hours, and saw him for a few minutes, but it was so worth it,” said Barile.

“I had the iPad over my head and I didn’t know what I was doing, didn’t know if I got him, but I couldn’t take my eyes off,” she added of her memorable few minutes in the Pope’s presence.

“I felt spiritual,” Ramos said after hearing the mass in NYC, which focused on helping others with an emphasis on what we can do to make a difference. Ramos, who has worked in prison ministry for over 40 years, received a burst of inspiration. “I came out as a new person,” he said.

Yannitelli was moved by Pope Francis’s message in Philly about family and love, where he said, “Division of hearts cannot overcome any difficulty. Only love. Only love is able to overcome. Love is about celebration, love is joy, love is moving forward.”

For a man of such status and importance, Pope Francis radiates a kindness that makes his messages of love and helping others believable and authentic. “Despite being the leader of the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, he remains so humble, funny, charming…” Yannitelli said. His “soft smile,” as Murphy described, draws people in.

“You hope people will remember this next week and next month, you want it to make a difference, not just when he is here” she said. Those from Philipstown all said they will treasure their time in Pope Francis’s presence, and seek to live out the messages he shared.

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