Ray and Beth Re of Queen of Peace Parish in Ardsley knew they wouldn’t be attending any of the papal events this past weekend. That was fine with them because the couple had an important role to fill: hosting pilgrims from Holy Family Parish in Lafayette, Tenn., whose pastor is Glenmary Father Victor Subb, a native son of Queen of Peace.
Ray described their visitors as “very friendly and very joyful people.” There were 47 pilgrims, and Ray and his wife had a group of 12 men and women staying in their home. “The women were in the bedrooms, and the men were in the family room,” he said. “We had bedding all over the place.”
The visitors arrived last Friday night, and the parish hosted a pizza party for them. Beth said Father Subb had told them his parishioners loved to sing. “We asked them to sing for us, and they all broke out in song and were waving their arms in the air,” Beth said. “It was just so joyful. They are beautiful people.”
Most of the pilgrims spoke Spanish so Ray and Beth relied on Google Translator to communicate with their guests. “We had a lot of fun with that because the translations didn’t come out that great sometimes,” Ray said. “They enjoyed communicating through the translator. It was a lot of fun.”
Throughout the weekend, Ray and Beth watched the papal events on TV and were impressed with Pope Francis and his talks.
“I think the pope revealed what it means to be truly Catholic and truly human,” Ray said. “In a very gentle way – he was in no way being intrusive – he brought up a lot of the controversial issues that are dividing our nation. It is my hope that many of the people who are leading our nation would see a spirit in him that is very uniting and will change hearts in a lot of respects.”
Ray especially liked the “simplicity and profundity” of the [ope’s messages and how he provided comfort to the prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. “I kind of fell in love with him during his visit,” he added.
Beth added that she was impressed with the effect Pope Francis had on those who came to see him. “It struck me watching all these people gather at the Mass and all through his visit, it brought out the beauty of our humanity and how joyful and wonderful our world could be if everyone could be like this all the time,” she said. “The goodness of the people came out. I was so proud to be a Catholic. We just pray that he was able to touch the hearts of people who have drifted from the Church. We’re hopeful there will be a resurgence of faith.”
Beth and Ray said their guests left Sunday night because they had to drive home so they could work on Monday. “We were disappointed because we didn’t have a lot of time to share what their impressions were of the Mass,” Beth said. “They came home very excited and happy that they had the opportunity to go.”
The experience of hosting the pilgrims made the papal visit even more memorable for the couple.
“They kept thanking us, but we wanted to thank them because it was truly a gift to have them here with us, and it was just a wonderful, touching experience for us,” Beth said. “In fact, Father Subb invited us to come down and visit, so we are tentatively planning to go down next summer to visit. We consider them our dear friends now.”