Mark Shriver ’86 Discusses Pope Francis, New Book During Packed On-Campus Event

Community members engage alumnus in discussion on the future of the papacy, theme of mercy
December 13th, 2016 by 

Mark Shriver 2016
Mark Shriver ’86 holds a copy of his new book, “Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis” (Random House, Nov. 29, 2016). Photo by Dan Vallaincourt

Mark Shriver 2016
Shriver interacted with members of the Holy Cross community before his talk. Photo by Dan Vallaincourt

Mark Shriver 2016
Shriver talks about how his book focuses on three central attributes of Pope Francis — his profound faith in God, acts of humility and acts of mercy. Photo by Dan Vallaincourt

Mark Shriver 2016
Students, faculty, staff and members from the local community listen to Shriver’s talk. Photo by Dan Vallaincourt

Mark Shriver 2016
Following the talk, members of the audience engage in dialogue with Shriver during a Q&A session. Photo by Dan Vallaincourt

Mark Shriver 2016
After the talk, Shriver signed copies of his books for members of the community. Photo by Dan Vallaincourt

Following the release of his new book, Mark Shriver ’86 stopped at the College of the Holy Cross during his book tour to discuss “Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis” (Random House, Nov. 29, 2016), which paints an intimate portrait of Pope Francis based on interviews with men and women who knew him simply as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, before he became the worldwide leader of the Catholic Church.

Standing before a filled Hogan Campus Center Ballroom, Shriver discussed the journey he took to craft his book, shared personal reflections, and answered the questions of current students, faculty, staff, and members of the local community.

Shriver shared that to write “Pilgrimage,” he traveled to Argentina, the homeland of Pope Francis , to meet with the people who knew him as a child, a controversial Jesuit, and a reformist bishop. The book itself is a collection of the stories Shriver heard during these travels on topics such as the pope’s family’s immigration from Italy to Argentina, his exile from the Jesuit community, and his election as Pope Francis.

“What interests me the most about Bergoglio is his rise, fall, and rise again,” Shriver said.

Shriver explained that the book also focuses on three central attributes of Pope Francis: his profound faith in God, acts of humility and acts of mercy. Shriver said that his journey in gathering stories and completing the book helped develop his own understanding of these attributes, especially mercy.

“When Pope Francis talks about mercy, I originally thought that he was talking about being nicer to people, or maybe giving a little bit more money to your favorite nonprofit,” Shriver said. “But he’s talking about…having an intimate relationship with poor people…For me, it’s asking them where they’re from, asking them what their name is, trying to understand the chaos and confusion in their life.”

Shriver also said that these attributes are found within the walls of Holy Cross, and that students, faculty and staff can learn from the pope’s journey.

“I want to leave you with the idea that as you are on your journey, whether you’re a teacher here, a Jesuit, or whether you’re a freshman or a senior going on the next stage of your life; we’re all pilgrims,” he said. “We’re all on a journey, on a lifetime of learning. This institution, I think, does a better job than any other school in the country in giving you the opportunity to have a great academic experience, but also lessons of humility, lessons of mercy, and lessons in faith…Pope Francis is on a journey himself. Even though he’s a wonderful teacher, he’s on a journey, and I hope as you go on your journey, you’ll remember this guy, who is, as Ignatius said, ‘trying to light the world on fire.’”

After Shriver finished discussing his book, the floor was opened for audience members to engage in a Q&A with the alumnus. Questions included: will there be other popes from Central or South America in the future and what would Shriver’s grandmother, Rose Kennedy, and mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, think about Pope Francis. One first-year student asked Shriver for his advice on how to maintain humility while going through finals and the rest of his college career, a time that often calls for him to focus on himself and his own needs.

“That was a beautiful question,” Shriver responded to the student, adding that he finds strengthening his own humility hard to do. “I think the gifts that you’ve been given are just that —gifts. I think understanding that they are gifts, whether it’s money, or you play football or you swim here, they’re all gifts. You have to be still and humble about that. I find that hard to do.”

Additionally, Shriver said that taking advantage of the retreat programs offered at the College can also enhance a person’s humility and prayer life. He shared that his own retreat experiences — when he was a student and now as an older adult — have helped him.

“I think going on [one of the] retreat[s] here is fantastic,” Shriver said. “Holy spiritual exercises are exercises, there’s a routine to them. I’m doing them now, the nine month spiritual exercises, and it’s like a workout. And if you can work through that routine of the examen, or the exercises themselves for 20 to 30 minutes a day, that’s an excellent way to keep you grounded and balanced.”

Shriver closed the evening by signing books and taking photographs with current students.

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For additional information, please contact Jessica Kennedy at 508-793-2419.

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Comments (1)
  1. Katherine Hyrb says:

    I bought this book for my dad for Christmas but now I can’t wait to read it myself!

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