by Jessica Langdon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Father Pat Murphy, CS, had no idea he was eating breakfast with the man who would be pope.
It was a year and a half ago, and the archdiocesan animator for Hispanic ministry was in Buenos Aires for a conference.
“He invited us to the cathedral for a Mass, and it was just really simple, just him and us — 40 priests,” said Father Pat. “When I concelebrated Mass with him, I never imagined he would be the future pope.”
Unlike most Catholics around the world, however, he immediately recognized the name when it was announced from the balcony in St. Peter’s Square.
“I was shocked,” he said, especially considering the modest circumstances in which they met.
“People who already knew him told me that he’s a real simple guy. He uses public transportation and does his own cooking,” said Father Pat. “He had Mass with us and, then after, came down to the hotel where we were staying and had breakfast with us.”
“You could tell this was a cardinal who really lived with his people and walked with his people,” he said.
Cardinal Bergoglio is said to have wanted to meet the people where they were, and that meant taking public transportation along with many others.
“It was well known that if you wanted an appointment with the cardinal, you just got on his bus,” said Father Pat.
Latin America will celebrate his election, said Father Pat, noting the growth of the church there.
Argentina, however, is more similar to many European nations in church attendance.
“Argentina is one of the countries in which the church is not growing,” said Father Pat.
“They have some very beautiful old churches that are empty, so he’s going to understand perfectly the need for a new evangelization,” he said.
And from the selection of the name Francis — the first time a pope has chosen that name — to the pope’s request from the balcony that the people pray silently for a blessing for him, it’s clear to Father Pat that Pope Francis is paving his own path.
“I think it’s safe to say he’s going to have a different style of being pope,” he said.