I am off to see the Pope…Day 1

Blog I’m Off to See The Pope
Day 1

Pope Francis gives his thumb up as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)
Pope Francis gives his thumb up as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

The beginning of this most auspicious invitation to visit Rome, the Vatican and the Holy Father, happened many years ago. I had recently opened the first StarShine Academy as a testing ground to see if we could figure out how best to understand what kids need to learn, how they need to learn, and what they need to know to become a happy, productive, responsible, caring forty- year old. We wanted to create a set of methods and ideas so wonderful, people would want to take and use them without having to get our permission, just because the At the start of StarShine, we weren’t interested in anything else. We wanted to see beyond college preparation or test scores. we wanted to save America from what seemed at the time, to have lost all sense of values or purpose. We decided to open the K-12 school on the worst drive-by shooting street, in the worst crime area of Phoenix, because we wanted to test any theory related to children, under the most extreme circumstances. I wanted failure to happen as fast as possible because I was funding this idea myself, along with a few friends.

We gathered some of the most amazing minds together, scientists, educators, technology geeks, retired military, nurses, doctors, politicians, ambassadors, moms and dads, in hundreds of Think Tanks to talk about learning for the needs of the future. then we would use the outcome of those discussions immediately to obtain feedback from the kids and teachers. It was working as if a divine miracle of magic was upon us. Many of us felt as if we were experiencing “a calling” of extraordinary measure. I personally experienced many unexplainable dreams. We kept working hard and the neighborhood transformed itself. Crime just disappeared. The kids started acting with enormous responsibility. We started calling it “The StarShine Effect” and I began to write a book about it.

The United Nations sent a delegation to visit the “Peace School.” It wasn’t what we were calling it…others were naming it, so. Shortly afterward, the Vatican sent Cardinal Ferris to check it, and me, out. I received a call from a Vatican representative at 7:00 early one morning. They explained the protocol associated with such a visit. I let them know I might not be worthy as I am not Catholic. They assured me that my work was their interest. They explained a customary practice was to kiss this Cardinal’s ring. We were extremely honored to have this visit. When he arrived at StarShine, I told him I knew I was expected to kiss his ring. He laughed and as he took it off he said, “You don’t have to do that. in fact here, you can put it on.” Of course I objected not feeling worthy to even touch such a Holy artifact. “But,” I said, “I would love to take a picture of it.” So I did. and one of our original advisory board members and lay-Catholic minister, Susan French, offed to host him and his colleagues at a luncheon in his honor at the Paradise Valley Country Club. He was very touched to be treated so well upon such short notice. One of his attendants was a young Italian man named Gabriel Delmonaco. A few days after they left, Gabriel called to tell me of Father Ferris’s diagnosis of brain cancer. I assured him that we were a powerful bunch and would pray for him. Susan put him on every known prayer list. And about a week later, his surgery found a greatly reduced tumor and successful termination of his cancer. This began a lifelong friendship with Gabrielle. Cardinal Ferris retired and Gabriel became the head of Papal charities, CNEWA.

We kept in touch and from time to time had dinner in New York or Phoenix. I introduced him to my friend, Bill Yotive of the United Nations. Bill took good care of us, taking us on a back-end tour and lunch in the U.N.delegates dining room. Gabriel had never been invited to the United Nations so was thrilled and ever grateful. All three of us talking about our dreams to save the world seemed almost overwhelming in those days.

Last week I was asked to speak about StarShine and its involvement in the XPrize for Global Learning to a group of powerful executives in New York City. My husband, Steve McCarty played a private concert for the group. While in New York, as I always do, I reached out to Gabriel to see if he was anywhere near. He was in a new office, he said, and had just returned from Rome the night before and eager to see us. We ran through the rain a few blocks from where we were to go visit Gabriel. When we got there, he told us he had just been given a new job by the Pope, to be the Director and President of Boys Towns and Girls Towns and now wants to put StarShine curriculum for “Peace Building” into the orphanages. Then almost as an after thought, Gabriel said, “Trish I am taking ten of my board members to visit the schools and meet the Pope, but two of them just called this morning to tell me they can’t go. Could you two take their place? I only have until today to get the security clearances because it is just in two weeks.”

And that’s how it went. At first my mind raced as if, how can I do this…and reality hit hard and I said absolutely. Three days later we were approved to visit the Holy Father….Just meant to be, is the only explanation. And just like. Everything else that seems to happen at StarShine.

We are now on a plane getting ready to land in Charlotte, North Carolina, to make connections to Rome. we will arrive in Rome at 9:00 AM tomorrow morning. We are excited and blessed beyond belief and amazed at the adventure of life in total faith.