Pope Francis | St. Louis Public Radio

Pope Francis

Saint Louis University High School sophomore Bryce Van Bree (at left), music director Jeff Pottinger (center) and senior Emanuel Parker discussed what the serendipitous experience was like on Tuesday’s show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

Last week, Jeff Pottinger and his band of 40-some Saint Louis University High School students were enjoying a trip they knew they’d remember for years to come when it suddenly became exponentially more unforgettable.

They were partway through a musical performance just outside St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican when Pope Francis himself approached the group, listened to them play, then talked with them and even took a few selfies with the teens.

“Magical” is one word that Pottinger used to sum up the experience while discussing it on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air with host Don Marsh.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

You may have heard of the local group of nuns who go to Bridgeton to pray for and protest over the West Lake and Bridgeton landfills, which have been the subject of much controversy in recent years.

Wikimedia Commons

Dec. 8 will mark the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. At the time, the council was a groundbreaking move as an assembly of Roman Catholic religious leaders had not met for nearly 100 years. What would happen during the council was even more groundbreaking.

John Thavis covered the Vatican for 30 years.
Provided by the author

When veteran Vatican journalist John Thavis interviewed exorcists for his new book, many said right off that exorcism was “nothing at all like the movie.”

These American and Italian priests were referring to the 1973 movie “The Exorcist” made from William Peter Blatty’s novel, which was based on a St. Louis event.

Pope Francis waves to crowds gathered in Philadelphia, which include a group of De Smet Jesuit High School students and faculty.
Courtesy of Kenneth Luecke, De Smet Jesuit High School

As St. Louisans who traveled to see Pope Francis during his U.S. visit in Philadelphia last weekend return home, some said they were "awestruck" by an experience they described as "thrilling."

But not everyone was pleased with the pontiff's words, particularly around the issue of clergy sex abuse. 

File photo of Pope Francis
Flickr | Christus Vincit

Dozens of St. Louis Catholics are headed to Philadelphia this week to see Pope Francis, who arrived in the U.S. Tuesday, and they bring with them a wide variety of expectations.

Pope Francis at St. Peter's Square in May 2013

Approximately 800 St. Louis Catholics on Saturday sang, played, prayed and had their photo taken with a life-size flat poster of a smiling Pope Francis at Papa-palooza on the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary grounds in Shrewsbury. The archdiocesan-wide, church picnic was aimed to give St. Louisans a family celebration in advance of the international Vatican's World Meeting of Families, which begins Tuesday in Philadelphia. 

Pope Francis meets with four representatives of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the Vatican April 16.

Pope Francis gave his blessing Thursday to a leadership network of Catholic nuns closing early what was set up as a four-year investigation.

The pope didn’t say “go forth and sin no more.” The message was more like keep up your good work, but tip toe around some flaky-‘60s style programing at your annual meetings. He encouraged their missions:  Keep helping the poor, the sick, children, youth and the marginalized.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Casa Rosada)

In the 11 months since Pope Francis began his papacy, he has gained widespread approval and a reputation for shaking things up.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Convenient ignorance explains most of the folly in human affairs. The things we don’t know really can hurt us. Worse, the things we think we know are often wrong.

Once a misconception gains general acceptance, calamity is all but assured because the flawed assumption allows us to logically proceed to absurd results. Unquestioned belief, masquerading as common knowledge, provides a kind of lazy wisdom — it relieves us of the burden of critical thought while lulling us into the delusion that we’re in control of events.

File photo of Pope Francis
Flickr | Christus Vincit

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Pope Francis has 39 questions for his flock. A few hundred St. Louis Catholics who work or volunteer in ministry to families have begun filling out his survey. At most St. Louis Catholic churches, parishioners are waiting for their pastor to receive the survey and determine how they can respond. This is a historic first: a Vatican survey that includes the laity.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Pope Francis just might upstage an upcoming Saint Louis University symposium on the 2014 canonizations of two popes, John XXIII and John Paul II.

The session’s title is “On Earth As It Is In Heaven --The Canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II.” Its tagline, “The Church in the World Today,” opens the way to talk about Francis.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Patricia Quarando of St. Charles will skip breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday. She is eager to follow Pope Francis’ call for "people of good will" to observe Saturday as a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria.

Quarando, an airline ticket agent, plans to go to her parish church, St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church in Sunset Hills. She’s one of thousands of St. Louis Catholics who will do the same.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: “A taste of heaven on earth” was how several Missouri young adults who prayed at the six-day World Youth Day in Rio with Pope Francis and 3 million other young people, according to official government count.

“We were completely crowded so cold and shivering but it felt right. We all belonged together, we all had a place,” said Toni Firoved, 19, of Sacred Heart Parish in Troy, Mo. She talked by phone late Sunday night from her Rio hotel.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louisans had been singing in the rain and wind at World Youth Day in Rio for four days and nights

“The sun came out this morning. For the first time we could see the statue of Christ the Redeemer on the Corcovado mountain overlooking the city,” said Chris Venverloh, 23, a member of St. George Parish in Gardenville in south St. Louis County. He spoke by phone as he and 20 other Missouri young adults prepared to leave their hotel for Copacabana Beach where they would join more than 1 million young people in praying the Way of the Cross, a Catholic devotion that recalls Gospel accounts of Jesus final hours.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Yesterday, as with most Sundays, Kathy Miller, 25, ushered at 11 a.m. Mass at her parish, Seven Holy Founders Church in Affton.

Next Sunday she’ll participate in a Mass with identical core prayers but everything else will be different. Instead finding a familiar pew, she’ll be kneeling on her sleeping bag outdoors at a Brazilian Air Force base as Pope Francis celebrates Sunday Mass. Instead of praying with neighbors and childhood friends, she’ll be surrounded by young people from more than 100 countries. She expects the pope to focus his homily on how her generation can help the world.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Pope Francis has long been devoted to a St. Louis pioneer woman: St.  Philippine Duchesne. For years, perhaps to this day, he daily prayed to her to intercede to God for his work. On the first month anniversary of his election, he accepted an image of St. Philippine -- a print made from the chapel stained glass window in the St. Louis archbishop’s residence at Lindell Boulevard and Taylor Avenue.

File photo of Pope Francis
Flickr | Christus Vincit

The new pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is the first-ever Jesuit pope and the first non-European pope of the modern era.  He is the first to adopt the name Francis.

Pope Francis now leads the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Host Don Marsh spoke with a variety of guests to talk about the meaning behind Pope Francis’ selection and about some of the major controversial issues within the Church, including clergy sexual abuse, the role of women and same sex marriage.

(via Flickr/Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires)

The head of the Archdiocese of St. Louis says he is "delighted" with the selection of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

White smoke from the Sistine Chapel  announced the selection of a new pope  just about 1 p.m. local time. Bergoglio's name was revealed about an hour later. Until today, he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Argentinian Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the new pope. He is the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, the first non-European pope since the early centuries when there were African popes.

Not even the Jesuit weekly America had him on their list of profiled candidates.

He is 76, and is humble priest who moved out of the Argentine archbishop's traditional residence and lived in an apartment in a poor neighborhood. He got rid of the chauffeur and drove his own car.