EARLIER THIS FALL, I had the good fortune to speak at St. Martin’s University, a Benedictine school on a beautiful campus about 90 minutes south of Seattle. Our campus guide was Jennifer Fellinger, a woman who was raised Catholic and attended Xavier (a Jesuit university in Cincinnati), but had drifted a bit. She didn’t feel pushed away; she’d just been caught up in the madness of family life and work, and faith had slipped away from her center.
And then Pope Francis spoke. Or rather, gave an interview that was published by Jesuit magazines across the world. Her voice cracked as she described how that interview had returned the light of her faith to the center of her life.
On the drive from Sea-Tac airport to Lacey, Wash., where St. Martin’s is located, Fellinger quoted long segments of it from memory. Her favorite part was toward the end of the long interview when Pope Francis described Catholicism as a “journey faith” rather than a “lab faith.” She loved the story the pope told about being sick in the hospital with lung disease, and having the doctor come by and clinically prescribe him a certain dose of medicine. The sister who was on duty tripled the dose because she had a visceral sense of how he felt, as she was around sick people all day. It was a great example of the wisdom of presence and the gentleness that comes with simply being with people. The pope had called this sister “daringly astute.” Jennifer loved that. “This is what my Catholic faith is about, this is what I am striving for when I am faithful—to be daringly astute,” she exclaimed.