By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Even though Pope Francis was wheels up five days ago, many families are still living in the afterglow of an encounter with him.
The Hanlon family of Conshohocken speaks of so many factors aligning to place their son, Sean in the direct line of slight of the pope.
And what happened next is a memory to be cherished.
Saturday night 16th and JFK, the papal procession was magnetic.
Thousands clung to their places on the slimmest of chances that they might be blessed with a Francis moment.
The Hanlon family with their son, Sean waited among the thousands.
“We were waiting a long time. It was about eight hours that we were waiting.”
Seventeen-year-old Sean uses a wheelchair. Cerebral palsy has claimed his speech and many physical abilities but not his connection to the spirit we share.
“We were right there on the corner and as the Pope made his way down 16th Street he saw Sean.”
“So, Sean was very patient and as the Pope came up he just locked eyes with Sean. And you know, from a distance gave him a blessing.”
“And the crowd around us just went crazy .. and just ‘he blessed your son, he blessed you son.’ I think we all got blessed along with it so it was pretty powerful.”
CBS 3 witnessed powerful at the airport. Shortly after Pope Francis had slipped into the Fiat he stopped — a disabled child and the tearful mother who loves him felt his touch.
You can almost read her silent prayer.
Kerri Hanlon felt that too.
“One of those things.. that sometimes when you think of getting a blessing, you know there’s gonna be this expectation of .. is he cured. ”
“You know for us, it’s no, you know. Sean is who he is and we’re so grateful for that. ”
Grateful also that Sean can be a messenger.
Kerri’s Emmy award winning documentary, On The Other Side of the Fence, teaches a lesson of celebrating who we are.
That is a Francis message too.
“I think we would say.. thank you for coming to Philadelphia and thank you for helping everyone feel included as part of our community.”
Moms of children with disabilities lean on grace until the moment when grace shines its light on them.