Wilton’s State Senator Toni Boucher was one of the millions of people who got to see Pope Francis up close on his tour of New York, Washington and Philadelphia. She wrote about her experience going to New York City to attend the memorial prayer service on Friday, Sept. 25.

A Great Voice to Still Turbulent Waters

At a time of such great strife around the world came a great voice to still the turbulent waters. I was privileged to capture a personal glimpse of the Pope at a prayer service at the NYC 9/11 Ground Zero Memorial for family and first responders. Thank you Sari Weatherwax for this special moment in my life that I will never forget and for which I am deeply grateful.

We stood only a few feet away from this remarkable spiritual leader as his warm easy smile turned deeply somber when he prayed over the water filled memorial pools that spilled over the remains of nearly 3,000 innocent souls, stirring raw emotions and tears. It became immediately apparent that Pope Francis has remained the kindly pastor of the poor and disadvantaged, notwithstanding his regale attire and the legions of security guards and dignitaries that surround him, bringing this elevated position down to the people’s level.

Pope Frances said, “I feel many different emotions standing here at Ground Zero, where thousands of lives were taken in a senseless act of destruction. Here grief is palpable. The water we see flowing towards that empty pit reminds us of all those lives which fell prey to those who think that destruction, tearing down, is the only way to settle conflicts. It is the silent cry of those who were victims of a mindset which knows only violence, hatred and revenge, a mindset which can only cause pain, suffering, destruction and tears. “

He also said, “This place of death became a place of life too, a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division.”

On a schedule that could challenge anyone half his age, the Pope seemed to be on a determined mission to change the tone and tenor of the world around us by preaching redemption, compassion, kindness and even tenderness. The themes of inclusion, closeness of family, respect, recognition of and dignity for the downtrodden and the most vulnerable in society would be repeated by the Pope again and again as he proceeded relentlessly from one major event after another. He ended each service, prayer, speech or visit with a very special request, please, would you pray for me?” Yes, I thought when I heard this, yes, we will pray that you continue to have the strength to bring your message of caring, kindness, forgiveness, tolerance and civility to a world that desperately needs it. We pray that this historic visit to America helps make us all more self-aware and better people.