WASHINGTON - The whirlwind week for Pope Francis in the United States is over. But his visit has certainly left an impact - especially on Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.
"I'm in the process of coming down. What a week that was," Wuerl said about Pope Francis' visit. "One of the things very much impressed me was the Pope's face. It was so radiant."
Wuerl said the roar of the crowd surprised them both – especially during the parade. It was so loud, he said, that neither could hear each other.
Wuerl said Pope Francis told him he was surprised by the reception he received here in D.C. "He was so pleased and surprised by the warmth of the reception. I don’t know what he had been told about us, but everywhere he went, from his arrival at the Air Force base on through – everybody seemed to want to simply to hug him."
Wuerl said Holy Father remarked about the beauty of D.C. as the two traveled to and from different events. "On a number of the drives as we were going from one place to another, and especially coming in and going out to the airport, he remarked on how beautiful Washington is. Remember, we're driving along the Potomac. We're seeing the monuments. We're seeing the green, we're seeing the beauty of our city and it wasn't lost on him. He said, ‘What a beautiful city.'"
Of his message, Wuerl thinks it is what we expected to hear from the pontiff. "He reminded us, we should care for one another. That it's possible not only to love one another but to build a community of respect, of care, of love. He kept saying this can be an even better place if we simply look at each other and see a brother and sister."
Wuerl told Pope Francis' that he and others hoped the warmth expressed by the community during his trip would stay long after he left.
Wuerl said that Pope Francis did make one unexpected trip to the Little Sisters of the Poor during his visit – but time didn’t allow for too many side-trips.
Wuerl said the pontiff didn’t even have a chance to eat while visiting Catholic Charities. "I think he would have been happy to get some of that food but security kept moving him along. I didn't see he actually got to eat."
"It's a joy I’ll have in my heart forever," Wuerl said.
After stops in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, Pope Francis arrived safely back at the Vatican Monday.