SIDNEY — Three Lehman Catholic High School students are looking forward to the visit by Pope Francis to United States this week.
“I’m super-excited,” said Hannah Fogt, 17, a junior from Sidney. “I actually heard he was coming from the news.”
Fogt said Lehman students learned more about the pope’s first U.S. visit during a school Mass homily given by the Rev. Tom Bolte.
“We learned he was going to Cuba first,” Fogt said.
Pope Francis conducted mass in Cuba on Sunday. The visit to Cuba is a result of the pope’s work to help restore relations between the U.S. and Cuba during the past months.
If she could get an audience with Pope Francis, Fogt said she would ask if he could have 30 minutes with world leaders, what would he tell them?
Fogt said she would hope that the pope would tell them “to change things, to be open to change.”
Aware of the current issue of Syrian refugees seeking asylum in various European countries, and the pope’s admonition to both leaders and Catholics in those countries to help the displaced, Fogt said she agreed with Pope Francis.
“I think he’s right. We’re all human,” she said.
Fogt is considering studying marine biology at Flagler University in St. Augustine, Florida. At Lehman, she is involved in soccer, basketball, team leadership, SAAC and INTERACT.
Fellow student Claudia Fatone, also of Sidney, said she thinks “it’s awesome for the pope to be coming” to the United States.
“Catholics and non-Catholics alike look up to him. His coming here makes it feel ‘real,” said the 17-year-old Lehman senior. “Like he’s not just some big church leader in Rome.”
If Fatone could give Pope Francis advice on what he should say to the members of the United Nations and the United States Congress, she would ask him to explain: “In the end, we’re all people trying to reach a common goal and they should put aside their differences.”
Fatone also is a member of the Lehman soccer team and the school’s music programs. She’s played saxophone in the band until this year when she became a part of the band’s percussion section.She also participates in school musicals and the show choir. She is a member of Lehman’s pro-life club, Cavs 4 a Cure, Science Olympiad, Big Buddies, and is a blood donor. Fatone hopes to study nursing at the University of Cincinnati next year.
Kate Hemm, 16, of Piqua, said she took to social media upon hearing of the U.S. visit by Pope Francis.
“One of my friends told me about it. He didn’t know much, so we each went home and looked it up. Then we texted each other about what we found out,” Hemm, a Lehman junior said. “We also talked about his visit in leadership class.”
Aware that Pope Francis is considered to be more open with his concerns than past church leaders, the Lehman students seem pleased they are growing up under his watch over the Catholic Church.
“Not a lot of ‘celebrity’ church leaders go out to meet the people,” Hemm said.
Speaking of the difference between Pope Francis and previous church leaders, Hemm said she believes that the new pope “addresses a lot of problems that are small; things people don’t talk about much” as a church. But he also touches on subjects not often addressed by church leaders, such as global warming and gay rights, using these opportunities to draw attention to church policies and teachings.
If given the opportunity to have a conversation with Pope Francis, Hemm, who is planning on studying journalism — at Ohio University if her grandfather, former Troy Daily News editor Joel Walker, she says, has his way — said her topic of choice would be “the saints. I’d probably talk to him about the saints. They are people like us and we can become like them.”
Hemm also plays soccer for Lehman, is editor of the Cavalier Crier newspaper and the high school yearbook. She’s involved in the pro-life group, Cavs 4 a Cure and INTERACT. Hemm serves as a lector and extraordinary minister at St. Mary Parish in Piqua and is involved in fundraising activities in the community.
All three students said they hope to be able to catch some television coverage of the pope’s visit this week — maybe during religion class at Lehman.
From left to right, Lehman students Hannah Fogt, Kate Hemm and Claudia Fatone met with the Sidney Daily News prior to their soccer game Saturday to discuss this week’s visit by Pope Francis to Cuba and the United States.
Reach Editor Susan Hartley at937-538-4651.