Elise Cecil, of Leonardtown, Md., an 11-year-old student at Father Andrew White Catholic School, recently was one of six students from her school that was chosen to travel to see the Pope in Washington, D.C.

She is the daughter of Captain Thomas and Abby (Thier) Cecil and the granddaughter of Dennis and Diane Thier, of Dyersville, and Charles and Jean (Goerdt) Cecil from Alexandria, Va. Jean Cecil was originally from Dyersville, the daughter of Al and Harriet Goerdt.

The following is the email that she sent her grandma, Diane Thier, to let her know about her experience.

Dear Grandma,

When I first found out I was going to get to see Pope Francis our school principal called us over the loud speaker. My name was never called, so I zoned out and stared at my social studies notebook. But, then, my name WAS called, and that snapped me out of my la-la land. It was only the third day of school, so nothing absolutely terrible could have happened. I walked down with one of my B.F.F.L.A.A.D (best friend for life and after death). I didn’t realize her name was called, during my zone out, and then my anxiousness.

As we reached the lobby I saw Mrs. Maloney waiting for us, and once we had all gathered around her she took us aside into the gym. That woke up my nerves, why would she want us to step aside, unless we were in trouble? Well ... if we were going to see the pope of course, but don’t tell the six kids yet, they don’t know. When, the principal told us the news I could barely contain my excitement. I continuously glanced at Emma until my neck hurt.

Once, Mrs. Maloney was done Emma and I had to walk back to class through our glee. We still talked though, I mean we were going to see the Pope! Yes, I was shaking and my eyes were watery. One of my first thoughts was the fact that this was so much better than lunch with Mrs. Maloney that I always crossed my fingers for when they pulled the names. I was bursting with joy, and little did I know how close I would come within him.

On Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 6 am, I had my iPod, two extra batteries, head phones, notebook, book, pencils, pens, glasses, and lunchbox ready for the adventure of my religious lifetime. The iPod, two extra batteries, and headphones were for taking pictures,and entertaining myself on the bus. The notebook, pencils, and pens were for writing about my visit. The glasses were for being able to see things obviously. The book I didn’t use, because my friend was irritated when I pulled it out. And of course, the lunchbox was full of food for my wait.

We waited at a little church while we waited for the Pope to get back from a lunch with Christian Charities, I think. Then we took a shuttle to the nunciature and we waited there for maybe an hour, until we heard motorcycles and helicopters. The little Fiat rolled in a second later, and the driver got out, through the open door Emma and I could see his head. Thats when joy filled my whole body. I couldn’t even see his smile yet, but when I did, I swear I could never be happier. I couldn’t even digest all of the happiness. You could tell he was humble by his walk. I don’t know what it would be like if I shook his hand, but I’m so happy I saw him.

Pope Francis walked over to the right of me and Mom says from the TV it looked like I was five feet from him. I couldn’t see him over the people in front of me. I could only see people right next to me taking selfies, then he turned the other way and went down the line away from me, oh well. It went by so fast I guess I wrote more about the preparation, I will tell you however it didn’t kick in that I just saw the pope until a couple hours later.

I hope this was good enough for you grandma.


Elise Cecil