LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Siena College is watching the pontiff closely as the school’s mission for its students closely mirrors the vision and lifestyle of Pope Francis.
With the faithful looking to Pope Francis for spiritual guidance, many took notice after his election when the pope opted to live in a modest residence surrounded by priests on the Vatican grounds rather than in the traditional papal apartment.
He refused the luxury car and chose a plain iron cross. He rejected the ornate papal garb all to maintain a simple life.
“It’s to live the Gospel as the lesser of those,” Siena College President Brother Ed Coughlin said. “To try to be brothers, to try to be little or servants.”
It’s a way of life the pope admired in St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th Century missionary and patron saint of the poor and the environment. The pope chose the name Francis when elected despite his roots as a Jesuit priest.
Saint Francis left his wealthy merchant family to live with the poor and created the Franciscan religious order which focuses on service to others in solidarity with all of God’s creatures.
A statue of St. Francis stands at Siena College, which was founded by seven friars in 1937. The Franciscan tradition is what Siena College was built upon making the pope’s message very meaningful at the school.
“You’re really creating ambassadors who, hopefully, can take the message forward,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin said the whole college community is inspired by the pope’s example of humility, mercy and compassion.
“I’m always hoping that we’ve planted a seed with them that wherever I am, whatever I am doing, how do I shared my gifts with those who are disadvantaged,” he said.
“He walks among the people,” Siena junior Paolo Fiore said. “He listens to people.”
The pope will make time to embrace the needy on every stop of his six-day visit to the U.S. He will feed the poor in Washington, D.C., spend time with disadvantaged students in East Harlem, and reach out to inmates at a correctional facility in Philadelphia.
The pope’s message is clear Fiore.
“The things that we are taught, and the things that we hear every day are things that the pope is putting into practice,” he said. “That’s what so powerful about him.”
The pope will also show his admiration for the Franciscan way of life when he canonizes the 18th Century Franciscan friar and Spanish missionary Junipero Serra at a special mass in Washington on Wednesday afternoon.
Farther Mark Reamer and Father Julian Davies from Siena will be at the ceremony.
Siena students can watch the ceremony live on television from Serra Manor on campus, which is named after the friar who will soon be proclaimed a saint.