BALTIMORE (WJZ) — This week, about 3,000 people are expected to attend an event at Loyola University marking the first anniversary of Pope Francis.
Catholics around the world and in Baltimore are celebrating and reflecting on his impact.
Tim Williams has more.
This is the first Sunday Mass at the Baltimore Basilica since the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis. In March 2013, he was elected as supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. His impact and popularity are universally felt.
“I think he’s giving a lot of people hope and reminding them that we’re all one,” said parishioner Jennifer Hilaman.
“I’ve noticed that more people even from different faiths seem to come together and like him,” said parishioner Ricky Lee Hilaman Sr.
The Hilaman family travels from West Virginia to Baltimore each week for Mass. Teenage son Ricky is an altar boy. They are an example of the dedication and excitement Pope Francis has inspired his first year.
“All the stuff he’s doing, it’s bringing the church back together again,” said Ricky Lee Hilaman Jr.
“He’s drawing the young people to be more in their faith and welcoming them more and just including them more,” said Makayla Hilaman.
It’s an inclusiveness being called “The Francis Factor.”
“I think what has captivated many people in Francis is the fact that his words and gestures are so accessible,” said Father John Conley, Loyola University.
Conley says Pope Francis has a way of simplifying church doctrines that are sometimes abstract, argumentative and detailed.
“It speaks to a lot of people who are not theologians or professors, but good people on the street,” Conley said.
Baltimore Archbishop William Lori agrees.
“He’s embracing a sick man in St. Peter’s Square. He’s sitting in a meeting, saying, `Don’t mind me, I’m just the Pope.’ He’s pretty wonderful,” Lori said.
That wonderful view equates to packed pews and services for the Catholic Church.
Tuesday’s event at Loyola’s Reitz Arena is called “The Francis Factor.” It begins at 7 p.m.
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