I have been to Cuba several times and my journey this time around was to witness Pope Francis’ visit.
Many Cubans were excited to see this Pope, who has earned the nickname, “The People’s Pope.”
I have been to Cuba many times, but this time, as I witnessed Cubans preparing for the Pope’s arrival, I saw an excitement I had never seen before. The streets and buildings were cleaned and new street traffic signs were re-painted in Habana.
During my first visit to Santiago de Cuba in January of 2015, I saw how the church was restoring and renovating many areas to prepare for Pope Francis. When I attended the Pope’s mass at Revolution Square I encountered many people from different countries, including Trinidad & Tobago, Puerto Rico, Panama, Argentina, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Angola, and the Cayman Islands. The United States was well represented as I met people from Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Washington, DC, and Baltimore.
Everyone was in good spirits as Pope Francis presented his message of unity. He spoke of how the family should come together and how everyone should help each other and reject materialism. He preached that men should help those in need and not ignore the marginalized and poor.
I later attended Pope Francis’ encounter with the Cuban youth. His message to them was to dream. To dream big and not stop dreaming. His message of inclusion and unity has attracted a massive fan base.
From my vantage point at various places in Cuba, the Pope lived up to his nickname. Overall, the Cuban people seemed pleased with his message of peace and acceptance.