GREEN POND From the moment Pope Francis appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica two years ago, he has won the hearts of the people. His request asking that people to pray for him as he began his pontificate as leader of the Catholic Church and the choosing his name, Francis after the beloved saint, reflected his humility, simplicity and closeness to his people.
At St. Simon Parish here, a group of parishioners has been taking an in-depth look at the leadership and vision of Pope Francis through a series of DVD’s titled, “The Francis Effect,” produced by Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation.
Beginning at the start of Lent and continuing through the Easter season, Catholics at the Green Pond parish view segments of the DVD and then discuss the various topics ranging from the surprise about Pope Benedict’s resignation and Pope Francis’ election to his new ways of communicating and his apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium.” The DVD is divided into six chapters representing the major themes of Pope Francis’ first year as pope. According to the producers of the series, “The Francis Effect” truly emerges in the realization of the Second Vatican Council as the beginning of a fundamental transformation of the Catholic Church and a concrete expression of how to preach the Gospel in today’s world.
Father Richard Bay, pastor of St. Simon’s, said, “Pope Francis truly is attuned to today’s times. He ensures he is accessible to all people following the beliefs of our faith. The people at St. Simon’s have been refreshed to hear Pope Francis’ message.”
The idea to use the DVD’s featuring commentary from cardinals, well-known Catholic scholars and national journalists came at the suggestion of Bishop Emeritus Rodimer, who lives in the Green Pond section of Rockaway. “Last year during Lent, we viewed and discussed Father Robert Barron’s ‘Catholicism’ series so I was looking for something new for this year’s Lenten discussion group,” said Father Bay. “Bishop Rodimer recently got the DVDs and suggested I watch them. I thought this would be a perfect series to discuss with the parishioners at St. Simon.”
“The Francis Effect” gives many interesting insights about the 266th pope who is the first pope from the Americas. Joe Sarti, a parishioner of St. Simon, who has attended the discussion groups, said, “The pope has been very well received by almost everyone I know. It’s great to talk about how he has evolved. He has changed how people, Catholic and non-Catholic, view the papacy.”
While Pope Francis has a different style than that of Pope Benedict XVI, Sarti said by viewing the DVD’s he realizes that Pope Benedict and other papal predecessors of the past have truly set the tone for Pope Francis as he leads the Church today.
Through the series, the group has delved into many of the topics that the pope has addressed in his papacy. The most significant take away, according to Sarti, is becoming inspired by the pope to transform communities and society as a whole by living and sharing the gospel of love.
“I’m certainly not a Bible scholar but one message that is really important and has caught my attention is reaching out not only to active Catholics, but also to everyone in the world. I appreciate what Father Bay does for the parish through these groups. By watching the DVD’s, we are challenged to take the mission from there,” said Sarti.