Pope Francis MSMUMembers of the Mount St. Mary’s Seminary community have the opportunity of a lifetime by serving with Pope Francis during this week’s Papal visit to the United States.

Mount seminarians Kevin Fields, Brendan Glasgow, Andrew Larsen and Ferdinand Mukhar will serve at the Canonization Mass of Blessed Junípero Serra, on September 23, in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Blessed Junípero Serra will be the first saint to be canonized on U.S. soil. 

“I received an email from Father Mel Ayala, the director of the Office of Worship for the Archdiocese of Washington, and I am really excited to be able to serve with the leader of the Catholic Church, and possibly shake his hand,” said Larsen. 

Servers at the Papal Mass, which will be said in Spanish, Pope Francis’ native language, are theologians from the Archdiocese of Washington. Along with the seminarians from Mount St. Mary’s, other servers will be from the Theological College, the national diocesan seminary of the Catholic University of America, and the Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary, Redemptoris Mater. Servers will assist with the Mass in a variety of ways, including during the celebration, as well as preparation before and clean up afterwards. 

“I have prayed for the Holy Father and those who he may encounter, whether they be government leaders or just people through the media,” said Fields, “Through this event, we can go forth and share the good news. People will come from all over to celebrate Mass with the Pope, and this just affirms that our church is one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic.” 

In addition to prayer, the seminarians must attend a set of meetings and three rehearsals on the day of the Mass to prepare. They must arrive at the Basilica early in the morning to prepare for the busy day ahead. 

“I am humbled at this opportunity,” said Fields, “It will be a long day of preparation and sacrifice, but it will be worth it to have an encounter with the Holy Father and serve when a new saint will be canonized. It is such a privilege.”

Seminarian Ebuka Mbanude will serve at a public, midday prayer service with Pope Francis and the U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, also located in Washington, D.C. 

“I expect this experience to be joyful, and that meeting him will bring joy into my heart, that I can carry on in my vocation,” said Mbanude, “I expect it to challenge me to be a better person.”

Mbanude says he is a great supporter of Pope Francis, and respects his humility. He believes the Holy Father is able to listen to God and delve into issues the Church considers difficult to talk about. 

“It is important for people to take what the Pope says into their own hearts, and not just rely on the media,” said Mbanude, “Each person must reflect on the Gospel and how they should live these teachings. What the Pope says is not just something to be used to inspire a debate; it is meant to be internalized.”