Twin Cities parishes, leaders react to Pope Francis' first U.S. visit

A number of Twin Cities parishes have organized bus trips to Washington and Philadelphia to see Pope Francis who touched down in the U.S. for the first time on Tuesday.  A staff-member at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis said his visit in America will be monumental.

As the director of liturgy at the Basilica of St. Mary, Johan Van Parys has had the unique experience of meeting the last three popes.  But Van Parys said Francis is special, and he came away with the sense that the man simply likes people and has a gift for connecting with them.  

"Pope Francis said, ‘well, what about the other people?’  And the handler said, 'there's no time for the other people.'  And the Pope said, 'Oh yes, there is time for the other people.'  So, he ended up spending another hour meeting everybody who was there taking selfies,” Van Parys said of his meeting. 

“So it was an extraordinary experience and I think exemplary of who he is as a person and who he is as a Pope.  He makes time for people."

One pope led with his charisma, one led with his mind, and this pope seems to lead with his heart -- “We saw it again in Cuba where he handed his prepared notes to the Cardinal and said ‘I want to speak from the heart.’  And from the moment he handed his speech to the Cardinal, people started to applaud." 

The bells of the Basilica had their own applause on Tuesday for the Pope’s U.S. arrival.  A special tribute rang out at the exact moment he was to land.

Van Parys believes that Pope Francis has already had an immense impact on the church. He believes in his writings, his speeches, and his teachings that he said has a way of translating the bible to speak directly to people.