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Seminarian Jacob George Helped Prepare for Pope's Historic Visit to the UAE

Jacob George feature

Seminarian Jacob George with Pope Francis

Seminarian Jacob George, who is from the United Arab Emirates, was delayed in returning to Mount St. Mary's Seminary for the spring semester so that he could assist with the communications efforts around Pope Francis's historic visit to the UAE last week. He offers his reflections about the experience.

Until this past month, I had quite the very simplistic concept of what was involved in a papal visit: the pope would visit, crowds would come to see him and then everyone would go home. It wasn’t until I was actually involved with organizing a papal visit that I realized the complexity of the whole matter. From the pope’s every movement to his every word – everything is planned with the utmost care and sensitivity. It’s truly a mega event for the church – and for the whole world.

Officially, my role in the “project” was assisting the communications committee, an office in the vicariate led by the Community of Grace. It was extremely busy - the only other time I remember working as relentlessly was as a project engineer in an oil and gas startup! While the region was waiting to see the pope arrive, we were more concerned that everything be executed smoothly and the pope return home safely!

The work was immensely rewarding. The people with whom I was able to work and the contributions I had the opportunity to make were perhaps part of a once in a lifetime experience. At the end of it all, seeing the reaction of the crowd when the pope entered the stadium for the mass was absolutely priceless. We couldn’t have asked for better compensation for the countless hours of work, the stress and sleepless nights. Even those who had traveled the previous night and had been waiting in the stadium since 3 a.m. suddenly found a new burst of life and energy on seeing the pope. At that moment, my thoughts were filled with "This is the church. This is our pope. No one can match this!" I felt so proud of our people and the love we were able to publicly display in front of all the authorities of the country. In previous meetings, these authorities were worried that the stadium might have been half empty – now they couldn’t help but be amazed at seeing the actual response! 

I believe that in every age God uses people and events for a purpose. This papal visit reminds me of the parable of Jesus of the seed growing in secret (Mk 4:26-29). I cannot predict what the effects will be, but I am sure that in time the fruit will appear in a clear but subtle way.